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Earthquakes fall 3-0 to Kansas City Wizards

In their first preseason game against MLS competition, the Earthquakes came up well short in a 3-0 loss to the Kansas City Wizards. Playing four 30 minute periods rather than the usual 90 minute time structure, the Quakes fell victim to a Kei Kamara hat-trick in the opening stanza that held up for the remainder of the game. The teams face off again this Saturday, before the Quakes make their return to the Bay Area.

The first two sessions of the match featured a familiar line-up:

Eduardo - Cornell Glen
Bobby Convey - Ramon Sanchez - Simon Elliott - Arturo Alvarez
Ramiro Corrales - Brandon McDonald - Bobby Burling - Chris Leitch
Joe Cannon

Missing today from the projected opening day line-up were Andre Luiz with a sore knee and Jason Hernandez with a recovering ankle. The newest Earthquake signing, Eduardo, made his team debut as a striker.

The flow of the matched favored Kansas City from the opening whistle, as they settled possession nicely in their own half before making runs into Quakes territory. Forcing Ramon Sanchez to retreat far into the defensive line, the Wizards dictated the scoring chances early in the match, while not allowing the Quakes much time to develop their own rhythm when holding the ball.

The Earthquakes were finally made to pay for their inability to move possession out of their own half, as a nifty sequence from KC lead to the first goal of the game. Taking the ball wide on the pitch, Chance Myers lofted a perfect cross toward goal that was sent crashing into the back of the net by newly resigned forward Kei Kamara. The defense was caught bunched up in the center of the penalty area, giving Kamara room on the far post to meet the crossing pass.

The Earthquakes tried to answer, as Arturo Alvarez made a good run past the outside left defender, but his enticing cross along the goal mouth could not be reached by a streaking Eduardo. The Wizards quickly regrouped from the close-call attacking effort, and gained back the possession advantage over the Quakes.

Kamara added to his scoring binge with two more late goals in the first 30 minute period. Taking advantage of a high defensive line employed by the Earthquakes, Kamara slipped clear for a 1 v. 1 with goalkeeper Joe Cannon and made no mistakes in scoring again for the Wizards. Kamara added a third goal - a hat trick for the Sierra Leone native - with another breakaway effort just before the referee ended the period.

With the score 3-0, the second period started with the same Quakes line-up. Looking more energetic, the team still found it difficult to carry possession deep into Kansas City territory. By losing the midfield battle with the Wizards, new forward Eduardo was presented little opportunity to impress on his Quakes debut. As the period dragged on, play became more heated between the two teams, and neither team found the back of the net. After a rather uninspired performance from the Quakes, the halftime score read 3-0 to the Wizards.

The second set of 30 minute periods featured a new set of Earthquakes - virtually the same line-up that faced Real San Jose on the weekend:

Andrew Hoxie - Quincy Amarikwa
Ismael Ibarra (unnamed trialist) - Brad Ring - Joey Gjertsen - Chris Wondolowski
Justin Morrow - Troy Roberts - Aaron Pitchkolan - Ewan Brown
Andrew Weber

The one change saw Ismael Ibarra an unnamed trialist invited to camp this week starting in midfield for rookie Steven Beitashour. Kansas City also brought in a second team of players for the last 60 minutes of the match.

Notables in what essentially was a reserve match were Justin Morrow on the wing and Brad Ring in the middle. Both players seemed to handle the Kansas City pressure nicely, with Ring showing some of the same composure he displayed in the Real San Jose match. Morrow had some nice forward runs from his defensive position later in the match, which is expected for the former midfielder now turned defender. One disappointment was forward Andre Hoxie, who at times seemed to lack the pace necessary to keep involved with the play of the game. At 6'4", he certainly has the size to be a force in the penalty area, but his lack of speed hampered his ability to execute counterattacks from midfield. Beitashour came on for Hoxie late in the fourth period.

A third scoreless period in a row ended left the score 3-0 on the day, and left the Earthquakes wondering where to find their offense. Knowing that the team has been participating in some grueling training over the last two weeks, it was not surprising to see them lacking in movement during the match. As training continues, and their physical endurance increases, performances like Wednesday's should change for the better. In the meantime, as Coach Frank Yallop explained before leaving for Arizona, the Earthquakes continue to train with an eye toward the regular season home opener. These preseason matches are simply a nice way to get a run-out in game situations.

(A special thank you to my colleague Peter C for his contributions to this report.)