Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sporting KC secures 2-0 road win at Columbus Crew

Sporting Kansas City defeated the Columbus Crew 2-0 on Saturday night at Columbus Crew Stadium.

The win marks Sporting KC’s fifth road victory of the season and improves their record to 11-5-3, putting them alone in first place of the Eastern Conference.

Jacob Peterson claimed his third goal of the season just six minutes into the match and Teal Bunbury sealed the victory in the 82nd minute with his third goal of the year. 

Jimmy Nielsen’s four saves earned him his eighth shutout of the season, tying him for most in the League with Joe Cannon.

Sporting Kansas City started the game aggressive on the attack, getting on the scoreboard in just the seventh minute. Peterson Joseph, in the second start of his MLS career, threaded the ball past two Columbus defenders to the awaiting foot of Jacob Peterson, who slotted the ball in.

The sliding strike was Peterson’s third goal in his last five MLS matches and came three days after he scored the game-winning goal in the team’s U.S. Open Cup semifinal at Philadelphia. Joseph bagged his first assist, and point, of his MLS career on the play.

Three minutes later, Crew midfielder Bernardo Anor took a shot from 40 yards out on the left but was just wide of the far right post.

Kei Kamara showed his eagerness to score against his former club in the 15th minute when he capitalized on a poor pass from Anor. Goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum’s clearance bounced off of Kamara’s chest and nearly slipped in to the goal.

The Columbus Crew began to pick up some momentum of their own 20 minutes into the contest.

The home team nearly equalized in the 24th minute when a free kick from Anor was pinballed around the Sporting Kansas City penalty area before it found the foot of Emilio Renteria, who turned and shot, hitting the side netting.

The Crew continued to threaten Sporting KC’s one-goal lead five minutes later, when Tony Tchani, at the top of the box, made a slick pass to Soony Saad’s former Michigan teammate, Justin Meram. His shot was right at Jimmy Nielsen who collected it at chest-level.

The final 20 minutes of the first half were relatively calm, with an exception in the 44th minute when a free kick from Anor, with plenty of power behind it, cleared the wall but couldn’t get past Nielsen, a 2012 MLS All-Star.

The Crew opened the second half strong, nearly drawing level in the 48th with a cross into the box to Meram. He made a perfectly timed leap and headed the ball on frame only to be denied by the underside of the crossbar.

Dilly Duka made an instant impact upon being substituted into the game in the 62nd minute, making a slicing shot from the left that was turned away by the superb defending of Matt Besler.

The next minute saw a series of dangerous crosses from Duka and Tchani, causing Espinoza and Collin to frantically defend and sending Nielsen off his line to finally snuff out the danger.

The 75th minute saw one of the Crew’s finest chances of the game when Renteria, in the box, flicked the ball past Collin and shot. The attempt ricocheted off Nielsen and was collected by Tchani, whose shot from distance went just wide of the goal.

Sporting KC then sealed their third straight road win in all competition in the 82nd minute when Kamara and Bunbury charged at the Crew goal. Kamara calmly passed the ball to the ever-ready Bunbury in the middle and the third-year pro took a soft touch and slotted the ball past Andy Gruenebaum.

The goal, Bunbury’s 17th of his MLS career, came two years to the date of his first MLS  strike in a 1-0 win at Columbus Crew Stadium.

The frustrated Crew continued to fight back but Sporting KC stood their ground late. Chris Birchall took a shot from distance in the 87th minute that found Nielsen’s gloves for his fourth and final save of the night. Duka proceeded to take another shot from range two minutes later but was just wide of the right post.

Sporting Kansas City will play the final game of their three-game road trip against the Houston Dynamo at 7:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday at BBVA Compass Stadium.  The match will be broadcast live on KSMO-TV, with coverage beginning at 7 p.m. CT.