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Wizards’ start knocks wind out of Thunder – The Star Tribune
July 18, 2007

Wizards’ start knocks wind out of Thunder

Major League Soccer’s Wizards were playing without an All-Star scorer, but still had plenty of offense to win big at the NSC.

By Melissa Rosenberg, Star Tribune

Last update: July 18, 2007 – 12:34 AM

This might be goalkeeper Chris Konopka’s rookie year in Major League Soccer, but it isn’t his first time at the Schwan’s USA Cup.

Konopka, who played in the Cup as a kid, played 34 scoreless minutes in goal as his Kansas City Wizards beat the Thunder 5-0 on Tuesday night at the National Sports Center Stadium in Blaine.

Konopka’s U-16 team from New Jersey reached the finals in the 2000 USA Cup.

During that tournament Konopka and his teammates sat in the stands and watched a MLS exhibition game between the Wizards and the Chicago Fire.

Going from a kid in the stands watching the professional action to playing as part of the tournament’s featured game was a great experience, the goalkeeper said.

“It’s been real fun coming back here as a pro after being here as a kid just a few years ago,” Konopka said.

He wandered over to a group of youth players after the game who were chanting his name from the fence surrounding the field. “I remember being one of those guys,” Konopka said, pointing to the kids.

The exhibition match in front of announced crowd of 7,241 was the showcase event of the weeklong USA Cup.

This was the second meeting between the teams. The Thunder defeated the Wizards 3-1 in a 2005 U.S. Open Cup match.

The Thunder (3-6-5) is 11th in the United Soccer League’s (USL) 12-team First Division.

The Wizards (7-5-4) are in second place in the MLS Eastern Conference, one point behind New England. Several of Kansas City’s best players, including leading goal scorer Eddie Johnson, were not with the team because of Thursday’s MLS All-Star Game in Colorado.

Kansas City forwards Yura Movsisyan and Ryan Pore did the heavy lifting early, scoring two first-half goals apiece.

Movsisyan put in the rebound of a blocked shot on goal by Pore in the game’s fourth minute, and deposited a cross into the left corner of the goal in the 18th minute.

Pore scored on a penalty kick in the 30th minute, and scored again 14 minutes later for a 4-0 halftime lead.

Meanwhile, the Thunder managed only two shots on goal in the first half and finished with 10 shots in the game.

The Wizards tacked on their final goal early in the second half as midfielder Ryan Raybould scored in the 52nd minute.

Melissa Rosenberg •

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