Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sporting KC suffers 2-1 loss to Columbus Crew

Sporting Kansas City fell 2-1 to the Columbus Crew in front of a sold out crowd at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on Saturday.

Sporting KC claimed the first goal of the night off of a header from Kei Kamara for his team-leading eighth goal of the season, but Columbus fought back with a brace from Jairo Arrieta.

Sporting Kansas City remains in second place in the Eastern Conference, one point shy of the New York Red Bulls.

Columbus opened the half strong, with captain Chad Marshall forcing Nielsen to tip his header over the crossbar in the second minute. Josh Williams connected with a Chris Birchall corner kick at the far post a minute later but sent the header narrowly high of goal.

The home side pushed right back, notching the first goal of the night in the game’s eighth minute. Graham Zusi swung in an arching free kick from 45 yards out to Kamara, who made a perfectly-timed leap and headed the ball past Kansas City native Andy Gruenebaum. The goal marked Kamara’s eighth goal of the season and Zusi’s ninth assist, moving him into a tie for third most in MLS this season.

Seth Sinovic looked to score his first ever MLS goal in the 15th minute when he was on the receiving end of a long ball and made a run on goal, slipping through Columbus’ backline and shooting only to hit the side netting.

Columbus equalized two minutes later when Williams played a through ball to Arrieta, who ditched his mark and shot from close-range, nabbing his first MLS goal.

The Costa Rican international scored his second of the match in the 34th minute after he collected the ball inside midfield and stormed towards goal, unleashing a well-struck shot from 30 yards out past Nielsen.

Sporting Kansas City responded with a chance of their own within a minute when Zusi won the ball on the right flank and crossed to Jacob Peterson. He connected with the volley but it sailed just over the crossbar.

Looking to draw level with five minutes left in the first half, Bobby Convey served in a corner to Matt Besler. He was left all alone at the back post, however his header was held by Gruenebaum from close range.

Trailing at the half for only the second time at home all season, Sporting Kansas City would respond in the second-half with an all-time club high 19 shots in the second half while holding the Crew to a single attempt.

The 51st minute saw an impressive chance for Sporting Kansas City when Zusi smacked a right-footed volley from outside the box that Gruenebaum did just enough to tip into the crossbar. Teal Bunbury was there for the rebound but his shot went just wide with little time to react.

Bunbury continued to threaten five minutes later when he received a ball from Peterson and broke free for a one-on-one with Gruenebaum. The Columbus goalkeeper was up to the task, denying two shots from Bunbury from a tight angle.

Sporting KC nearly bagged a second goal in the 64th minute when Michael Harrington served in a cross to Besler on the far right post. Besler slid inside the six-yard box to redirect the cross on frame but he was narrowly wide of the goal.

Another close call came two minutes later when Kamara got his head on a long throw-in from Besler only to see it carom off the crossbar.

The scoring opportunities continued to pour in for Sporting Kansas City in a game in which they controlled more than 68 percent of the possession. Second-half substitute Julio Cesar took a dipping shot from 40 yards out in the 79th minute but was just high of the net.

Columbus was reduced to 10 men in the fifth minute of stoppage time when Cole Grossman was shown a straight red card for a cleats-up tackle on Zusi near midfield.

With little time remaining to capitalize on the man-advantage, Sporting KC’s final chance of the match came in the 97th minute when Korede Aiyegbusi, making his season debut, tapped the ball to Kamara through a crowded penalty area.

The Sierra Leone international was in prime position to earn a dramatic last-gasp equalizer but under pressure from Gruenebaum pushed the attempt just past the post.

Sporting Kansas City will host English Premier League side Stoke City FC at 7:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.