Sporting KC had an extra day to see the results around the league break down from last night and none of the results went KC's way. DC and Chicago both won closing the gap on KC at the top of the Eastern conference. Today, Sporting took on the Crew looking to build that lead back up and guarantee themselves a top 2 spot in the East and put themselves only 1 point away from clinching the East. Unfortunately a late equalizer from Eddie Gaven ruined that and now KC will have to fight to hold on to the top spot in the conference.
In the first few minutes of the game, KC had the possession in Columbus' end, a long range shot by Graham Zusi was easily held by Andy Gruenebaum. In the 6th minute the Crew created the first really good chance. From about midfield, Josh Williams played a great through ball to Jairo Arrieta as he raced past the KC defense. Jimmy Nielsen was quickly off his line and Arrieta's first shot went right into Nielsen's chest. The rebound went to Arrieta again who fired the rebound towards the corner of the net. Nielsen though got back to his feet quickly and got a toe to the rebound knocking it away. The second rebound fell to Milovan Mirosevic, but Matt Besler had recovered and jumped in front of the shot blocking it away, a flurry of opportunities as Sporting dodged a bullet. Shortly after that opportunity though Sporting grabbed the lead. After some possession down the right, Zusi played a great ball into the box. CJ Sapong found himself completely wide open in the box. Sapong's first header though went onto the post. The rebound went right back to Sapong who headed the ball into the opposite corner and into the net giving KC the 1-0 lead. If not for a nice save from Gruenebaum, KC would have made it two. From a great cross into the box, Roger Espinoza found Sapong. Sapong out jumped Chad Marshall and headed the ball on goal but Gruenebaum pushed the ball wide. Late on in the half, Nielsen was again called upon to make a big save, this time on Federico Higuain off a free kick. After a foul at the top of the box, Higuain took the free kick and fired it hard on goal. Nielsen was well positioned and reacted well getting a hand up and knocking it away.
Into the second half, KC continued to look for a second goal. Early in the half a long free kick from Zusi was headed by Kei Kamara into the path of Paulo Nagamura. Nagamura did extremely poor with the opportunity though from the penalty spot he skied it over the goal. Nagamura had another opportunity after Kamara and Espinoza combined well down the right. Espinoza cut back and laid the ball back to Nagamura who scuffed his shot well wide of the goal. The Crew created more of the chances as the second half progressed but they were not really dangerous. KC in the 83rd almost doubled the lead. After a corner was only cleared as far as Seth Sinovic. Sinovic laid the ball off to Espinoza who from about 25 yards let fly with an effort that was headed towards the corner, but Gruenebaum came up with another fine save. Into stoppage time it looked like KC might be able to hold on for all 3 points. But in the 1st minute of stoppage time the Crew found an equalizer. After KC couldn't initially clear a chance from Gaven, the ball found Emilio Renteria, who was wide on KC's left. He played a ball into the box for Gaven. Center back Lawrence Olum had backed off Gaven, who had a free header. Gaven's header beat Nielsen to the near post tying the game. A poor goal to give up from both Olum's side of things for giving Gaven so much space and on Nielsen's side for allowing the goal at the near post.
Right after the equalizer, things got worse for KC, as Sporting looked for an equalizer. Espinoza raced into the box, but played the ball too far ahead of him and Gruenebaum collected, but Espinoza went down in the process, and staying down. Espinoza had to be subbed out with an ankle injury. Peter Vermes didn't seem to think it was serious, but it will be looked at tomorrow before the team releases him to join Honduras for international duty. KC still had one more chance towards the end of the game, as Olum pushed forward after Aurelien Collin came in for Espinoza. Olum picked out Jacob Peterson on a streaking run down the middle. Peterson's first time shot though was right at Gruenebaum who collected the ball. Neither team was able to find a winner as both teams settled for a draw.
Wizards Man of the Match - Jimmy Nielsen - Yes he has to take some of the blame for allowing the equalizer at his near post, but that doesn't rule out the huge saves that he made in the first half to keep the game scoreless and keep the lead for KC.
Player Ratings - Nielsen 7, Sinovic 6, Besler 6, Olum 5, Myers 6, Cesar 6, Nagamura 5, Espinoza 6, Kamara 6, Sapong 7, Zusi 6. Subs Peterson NR, Collin NR.