Sporting KC ended their goalless streak at least. But one goal wasn't enough for Sporting KC last night at Livestrong Sporting Park as they fell 2-1 to the Columbus Crew. Once again it was a lack of finishing that really hurt KC as they once again out shot their opponent, but once again can't finish as they ended up with 25 shots to the Crew's 12. The Crew actually came out and had the first decent chance of the game as Chad Marshall headed an effort goal ward, but Jimmy Nielsen tipped it away for a corner. In the 8th minute, KC finally ended the goal drought. Graham Zusi played a free kick toward the penalty spot where Kei Kamara out jumped Marshall and headed the ball past Andy Gruenebaum to give KC the lead. KC could have doubled the lead in the 15th minute through Seth Sinovic. Sinovic ran onto a ball over the top, cut back inside on his defender and dribbled in on goal, but he fired his shot wide of the near post keeping it 1-0. In the 17th minute, the Crew leveled. Josh Williams played a through ball to Jairo Arrieta, who had set up shop between Lawrence Olum and Matt Besler. Arrieta received the pass and turned towards goal. He shrugged off Olum's challenge and slotted the ball past Nielsen to make it 1-1. In the 34th a poor pass from Zusi led to the Crew taking the lead. Zusi was looking to play the ball back to his center backs, but instead played the ball right to Arrieta. Arrieta, turned took a touch and let fly from about 25 yards out. The ball flew past Nielsen and into the net giving the Crew the lead.
KC almost immediately responded through Jacob Peterson, as another Zusi free kick was headed into the path of Peterson, who volleyed it just over the bar. Then 5 minutes before half time, Matt Besler should have equalized from a Bobby Convey corner. Besler found himself unmarked in the box, but put his header right at Gruenebaum, who calmly collected.
The second half was all Kansas City as they peppered the Crew goal. In the 50th, Zusi fired a shot on goal that Gruenebaum pushed onto the bar. The rebound fell right to the feet of Teal Bunbury, but he pushed the rebound wide of the empty net. Bunbury had 2 more opportunities shortly after on a fast break but twice Gruenebaum came up with big saves. In the 63rd, Besler had another good opportunity, off a short corner, the ball got crossed into the box. Besler made the back post run and got a piece of the ball but it was just wide of the post. It was close enough that the confetti cannon went off. Shortly after that the bar came to Columbus' rescue again. Off a long throw from Besler, Kamara got above everyone and headed the ball on goal, but the effort hit the post leaving the score 2-1. KC continued to throw numbers forward, but couldn't find a goal, Julio Cesar tested Gruenebaum from long range, but the ball went just over the goal. KC just wasn't getting any luck to go their way as they continued. Into stoppage time the game went as KC continued to search for an equalizer. Early in stoppage time KC did get some help from the Crew. Midfielder, Cole Grossman went in studs up on Zusi on a challenge around midfield. The referee immediately went to his back pocket, producing the red card. Up a man for the last little part of the game, KC had one last glorious opportunity as Korede Aiyegbusi slid a pass to Kamara in the middle of the box, but Kamara had trouble controlling the pass and then pushed his shot wide of the goal from inside the 6 yard box. Shortly after that the final whistle was blown and KC slumped to their 3rd home loss of the season, and 4th straight game without a win at LSP.
Other than Zusi's poor pass, another one of the talking points from the game will be the way that one of the goals started. After play was stopped with KC in possession, standard "sportsmanship" is to return the ball to the team. Instead the Crew played the ball normally leading to the goal.
Quesitons will be asked of Peter Vermes' substitution strategy last night, he inserted Julio Cesar for Convey, which pushed Peterson into the wing forward role. Not a horrible sub in the 64th minute as Convey regains fitness, it pushed Peterson into the position he's been most successful in this year and got Cesar back onto the field. Then Peterson went down with an injury and in the 71st was subbed out and replaced by Aiyegbusi. While he set up the final scoring chance, with more attack minded players like Peterson Joseph and CJ Sapong on the bench, the insertion of Aiyegbusi is at least a little questioning. The final sub may be the most head scratching, as Vermes subbed out Olum and inserted Neven Markovic at center back in the 84th minute. Down a goal inserting a center back, even if Olum was hurt doesn't make sense. Again with the offensive players on the bench it didn't make sense.
Wizards Man of the Match - Kei Kamara - The miss at the end aside, Kamara was a pain to deal with for the Crew back line. It's amazing to see his growth as a player from the time he originally came to KC.
Player Ratings - Nielsen 5, Harrington 5, Olum 4, Besler 5, Sinovic 5, Nagamura 5, Peterson 6, Zusi 4, Convey 5, Bunbury 5, Kamara 6. Subs Cesar 6, Aiyegbusi 6, Markovic NR.