Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sporting KC atop East with late 2-1 win in Columbus

Sporting Kansas City won their fourth consecutive road match, a new single-season club record, in dramatic fashion on Wednesday with Benny Feilhaber's goal in the final minute of second-half stoppage time securing a 2-1 victory at the Columbus Crew.

C.J. Sapong opened the scoring for Sporting Kansas City, who re-claim first place in the Eastern Conference with the team's sixth road win of the season.

Without Graham Zusi -- named an MLS All-Star earlier today along with captain Matt Besler  -- in the lineup, Feilhaber was the fulcrum in the Sporting KC midfield and assumed responsibility for the team's set piece chances. The World Cup veteran created numerous chances from dead ball situations in the opening 45 minutes.

At the seven-minute mark, his corner found Olum at the top of the six-yard box and the Kenyan international forced a save from Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark to push the header over the crossbar. Five minutes later, Feilhaber's free kick from the left flank skipped off  Wil Trapp near the top of the penalty area and carried inches wide of the far post.

Sapong, making his first MLS start since the team's home opener in March, nearly opened the scoring in the 28th minute. Olum kept the play alive and Sapong's sliding shot was deflected by Crew captain Michael Parkhurst before being cleared in front of the goalline by Trapp.

The former MLS Rookie of the Year buried his next opportunity, hammering home a header off a Feilhaber corner kick in the 42nd minute. The goal, his first of the year and 19th regular season strike of his career, ties him with Teal Bunbury for 10th most in club history.

Feilhaber claimed his team-leading fifth assist of the season and 20th of his MLS career (including postseason) on the play, while Sapong became the 11th different goal scorer for Sporting Kansas City this season. The reigning MLS Cup champions also improved to 9-0-4 when scoring first in 2014 and 17-0-2 in MLS competition all-time when Sapong scores thanks to the team's sixth headed goal of the season.

Momentum swung in favor of the home side early in the second half when Aurelien Collin was sent off in the 55th minute by referee Edvin Jurisevic -- who incorrectly showed Collin red on his MLS debut in 2011 -- after an aerial collision with Adam Bedell.

The 6'7" rookie then earned the Crew's first shot on goal of the game in the 61st minute, but Andy Gruenebaum -- playing against his former club for the first time since being acquired prior to the 2014 season -- was up to the task and turned away the near post attempt.

Columbus capitalized on the man advantage and drew level in the 69th minute through an own goal credited to Igor Juliao. The Brazilian outside back was goalside of Federico Higuain as the cross came in from Chad Barson and the clearance attempt ended in the back of the net following contact with Higuain.

The Crew, now winless in their last six against Sporting KC, continued to push forward for the go-ahead goal. Higuain sent his effort narrowly wide in the 80th minute and Gruenebaum made his second save of the match on Bedell in the 87th minute.

The mid-week match came to life in the closing minutes, beginning with the game's second ejection in the 89th minute. Trapp was sent off for the second time this season against Sporting KC after being booked twice in the final 40 minutes on Wednesday.

In the third of three minutes of stoppage time, Juliao worked his way up the right touchline and cut the ball back toward the top of the penalty area.

Jacob Peterson did well to re-direct the pass with a slight touch en route and set up Feilhaber for a first-time shot off the underside of the crossbar that stands as the club's latest game-winning goal of the season.

As a result of the second half away goal on Wednesday, all fans can text BWWSKC to 72727 to receive a buy one, get one free snack size wing order at all Kansas City area Buffalo Wild Wings locations.
Sporting Kansas City now returns home to host the LA Galaxy at 5 p.m. CT on Saturday, July 19 at Sporting Park live on ESPN2, WatchESPN and ESPN Deportes.

A limited number of tickets are available to purchase via and the first 5,000 fans will receive a Sporting KC cooler bag courtesy of Providence Medical Center.