Monday, July 04, 2016

Sporting DPs Help KC to All Three Points

In their first league game back from the Copa America Centenario, both Matt Besler and Graham Zusi made their presence felt for Kansas City as they picked up a 3-2 win over the Columbus Crew at Children's Mercy Park. It took both players until the second half to really take the game over, but when they did both players did well. Zusi helped turn things around offensively, playing like the Zusi KC fans haven't seen consistently since 2011 or 2012, while Besler scored his first goal in almost five years to give KC the 3-2 win.

Both teams had some chances up and down the field as the game was open early on with both teams getting some opportunities to open the scoring. It wasn't until a defensive mistake by Jimmy Medranda allowed Columbus to open the scoring. Under some pressure, Medranda tired to clear a ball up field for a teammate when his better option was probably to kick the ball out of bounds and let the defense recover. Harrison Afful picked up the ball and played a nice cross into the box for Ola Kamara who bundled the ball home to put Columbus on top 1-0. Columbus continued to try to exploit Medranda's inexperience at the left back position to try to find a second goal but were unable to. KC's best chance of the first half came in the 36th minute when Zusi curled a great free kick towards goal from about 35 yards out. The shot seemed to beat Steve Clark, but didn't beat the cross bar, and Benny Feilhaber couldn't make good contact on the rebound. Columbus continued to find space on the counter but Tim Melia was able to come up with the saves KC needed to only go into the half down a single goal.

Just three minutes into the second half Kansas City found themselves with a man advantage after a red card to Columbus' Tyson Wahl. Ike Opara played a ball over the top to Dom Dwyer. The KC forward let the ball bounce in front of him as he entered the box. With Dwyer letting the ball run a little bit, Wahl ran into the KC striker knocking him down and earning him a red card for denial of a goal scoring opportunity. Benny Feilhaber stepped up and buried the penalty to tie the game at 1-1 with over 40 minutes left for KC to take the lead. KC didn't take long to make the man advantage count as they took the lead in the 56th minute. A ball headed around midfield eventually fell to Zusi who raced at the Columbus defense before firing a shot from just outside the box that beat Clark to put Kansas City up 2-1. KC continued to search for a third goal to extend their lead but couldn't find it. Eventually the Crew started to get themselves more possession and in the 75th minute found an equalizer. Tony Tchani found some space near midfield and played a nice ball that split the KC defenders allowing Kamara through on goal one-v-one with Melia and he curled a ball inside the far post to tie the game at 2-2. Level it looked like Kansas City may drop even more points on the road but a late flurry allowed KC to pull out a win. After the equalizer KC pushed forward again winning free kicks and corners in the Columbus end. At times it looked like KC was being too unselfish, but finally as the clock rolled into stoppage time KC found a winner. A KC corner was cleared out of the box but only as far as Medranda who picked his head up and played a curled ball to the back post where Ike Opara was able to meet it and head it back across the middle to Besler who only had to get a touch on it to direct it into the net for his first goal since 2011 and give KC all three points.

Wizards Man of the Match - Graham Zusi - In the second half looked like the DP that he is, creating chances for Kansas City, wanting the ball and setting things up. His goal was something I'm not sure I've seen him do in a KC uniform since 2011, and he was really pushing the game offensively for KC.

Player Ratings - Melia 6, Medranda 4, Olum 4, Opara 5, Abdul-Salaam 5, Mustivar 5, Espinoza 6, Feilhaber 5, Zusi 8, Dwyer 6, Peterson 5. Besler 7, Davis 5, Mapp NR.

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