Sunday, June 30, 2013

Getting Back on the Right Foot

Sporting's home form this season has been less than stellar this season, the offense hasn't been clicking and the defense has not looked as good as it has the last two years. Last night against Columbus, Kansas City was able to get back on the right foot, sort of.  They took care of business against the Crew, winning 3-2.  The game though shouldn't have been that close as two poor defensive plays led to both of the Crew's goals last night.

Soony Saad got a bit of a surprise start at forward in place of the suspended CJ Sapong.  Saad caused all sorts of problems for the Crew early in the game.  He almost set up a goal early on by beating a man 1v1 on the wing and crossing to Kei Kamara in the box.  Kamara should have done better with it as he pushed his header wide. KC almost grabbed the lead in the 10th, again Saad was involved.  After a short corner by KC was broken up, Saad picked up the ball around the corner of the box and fired a shot towards the corner.  The ball took a bounce right in front of Andy Gruenebaum as he dove to save it and all he could do was push it around the post for a corner. Off that corner KC again almost grabbed the lead as the ball was floated back post for Saad who played it into the middle for Lawrence Olum who slotted Claudio Bieler through.  Bieler's curling shot though went just wide of the post. In the 34th minute, KC grabbed a deserved, and not surprisingly Saad was involved in it.  Saad received the ball on the right around midfield.  Saad played a fantastic cross into the box where Kamara was racing onto it. Kamara took the ball down wonderfully with the outside of his right foot and then blasted it past Gruenebaum with his left to give KC the lead. KC almost came right back down and added a second but Gruenebaum came up with a nice save to keep the score 1-0.  The score remained through the half.

Columbus quickly equalized in the second half.  A counter by Columbus was started on a long clearance that Federico Higuain headed into the path of Jairo Arrieta. Arrieta raced down the field 1v1 with Matt Besler.  KC defenders were recovering, but Arrieta got Besler dive in and beat him and then fired a shot into the corner past Jimmy Nielsen to tie the game. The game wasn't level at 1-1 long though. Only two minutes after Columbus tied the game, KC was back down at the other end in the corner Kamara laid the ball back to Chance Myers. Myers' cross was poorly cleared by Tyson Wahl right into the path of Bieler who fired the ball first time into the corner to make it 2-1.  A nice finish by Bieler especially since the ball was close to chest high as he turned and shot. Only two minutes later KC almost made it three as a corner was initially cleared but played right back in to Besler.  Besler crossed the ball across the face of goal and it just missed Kamara sliding in and the rebound was then cleared off Graham Zusi's foot. Higuain tried to play in Dominic Oduro, but Seth Sinovic beat him to the ball.  Sinovic then attempted to play the ball back to Nielsen, but didn't get enough on his pass.  Oduro raced by him, got the ball, rounded Nielsen and leveled the game at 2-2 in the 53rd.

KC continued to push the game after giving up the equalizer and second time, but couldn't find another goal.  Finally in the 80th minute KC got their winner.  After an attack at the opposite end, KC countered while Crew player Bernardo Anor stayed down in the penalty area with what appeared to be cramps. A cross from the left was flicked on by Bieler towards Kamara at the back post.  The ball went to Crew defender, Tyson Wahl instead.  Wahl poorly headed it away though right back to Bieler. Bieler directed his header back towards the far post where Kamara still was.  Kamara let the ball run across his body and fired the ball under Gruenebaum and into the net making it 3-2 KC. KC almost grabbed a fourth in the 84th minute.  KC got the ball out of their end and fed it to substitute Dom Dwyer.  Dwyer raced down the field and into the box when a sliding challenge from a Crew defender knocked the ball away. Advantage was called as Zusi raced onto the ball, but his shot was saved by Gruenebaum. The rebound fell to Saad at the top of his box, but Gruenebaum recovered very well after the first save and was able to get back across goal and make another save on Saad's effort to keep it 3-2. Into stoppage time, KC was holding on but looked shakey.  A cross into the box was headed up into the air by the Crew.  Nielsen came out to punch it but didn't get a good hand on it.  The ball fell to Konrad Warzycha.  With a number of bodies in the way though Warzycha fired his shot just wide of the post. KC held on and picked up the 3-2 win and for the moment move them into a tie for second.

Wizards Man of the Match - Soony Saad - Yes Kamara scored a brace, but Saad was fantastic yesterday.  Every dangerous opportunity by KC in the first half seemed to be coming through Saad in some way. He continued to play very well in the second and was unlucky in the end to only get the one assist on the stat sheet.

Honorable mention
- Kei Kamara

Player Ratings - Nielsen 4, Sinovic 4, Collin 4, Besler 4, Myers 5, Olum 6,  Rosell 5, Zusi 6, Saad 8, Bieler 7, Kamara 8. Subs Ellis 6, Dwyer 6, Opara NR.

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