Wizards’ attack needs more firepower
Zoltan Hercegfalvi may not understand much English. But he speaks the universal language of soccer.
So when Wizards assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin shouted “Golden Goal!” toward the end of a training session Friday morning, Hercegfalvi knew exactly what to do and buried the game-winner with a quick shot.
The goal-challenged Wizards, who can use some of that finishing firepower during the second half of the MLS season, plan to sign Hercegfalvi, 29, a veteran of professional soccer in Hungary.
Hercegfalvi, a sturdy, 5-foot-11, 175-pounder, has been idle for the last four weeks since his season ended in Hungary, and won’t be available for today’s game at New England. He’ll have two full weeks of preparation for the Wizards’ next game, on July 25 when David Beckham and the Los Angeles Galaxy visit CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
“He’s strong, he can hold up the ball well, he’s a decent finisher in front of the goal, and a good passer of the ball, so he’s an all-round good soccer player,” Wizards coach Curt Onalfo said Friday after watching Hercegfalvi set up one goal and score another in a seven-against-seven scrimmage among reserve players.
“Right now, we’re not scoring enough goals. We’re creating a lot of chances, and goals often come in bunches, so it’s a matter of plugging away. I feel very confident with the group we have, and it’s nice to have some more attacking options.”
Hercegfalvi’s assist in the scrimmage was more impressive than his goal as he chipped a soft pass that pass that rookie Austin Williams easily converted into a goal.
Forward Adam Cristman, who is hoping to get his first playing time of the MLS season after being sidelined all year because of a foot injury, was teamed with Hercegfalvi, and was impressed.
“I’ve been training with him the past two or three days since he’s been in, and he’s a good player, and he moves well,” said Cristman. “We’ve been partnered up in a couple of the drills, and we’ve done a good job of reading each other and working off and creating space and looking for the ball from the other guy.”
Hercegfalvi is coming off a season in which he scored 14 goals in 28 games for Honved FC, a first-division team in Hungary.
The Wizards have scored just 19 goals in 15 MLS games, and their average of 1.27 goals per game is tied with Chivas USA for ninth in the league. It’s hard scoring goals on tired legs, and the Wizards today will be playing their seventh match in three weeks, including three in SuperLiga, two in U.S. Open Cup and two in MLS.
During that stretch, the Wizards will have played in New England twice, Seattle, Minneapolis and St. Louis and are without second-leading goal scorer Davy Arnaud, who is with the U.S. national team, along with defender Jimmy Conrad; and without midfielder Roger Espinoza, who is with Honduras’ national team.
So adding some new life to the attacking end of the field may be just what the Wizards need.
“Our guys are getting to a point of the season where injuries happen, getting tired and we’ve played a ton of games in the past few weeks, so to be able to give those guys a rest and get some other guys up there is good,” said Cristman, who would love to face his former New England teammates today.
“We still have (Michael) Kraus and Abe (Thompson), so (forward) has become the most competitive position on our team right now.”