Sporting KC Dominates Columbus Again

All 3 matchups against Columbus Crew this season were wins for Sporting KC
by Skylar Rolstad   |   Monday, October 07, 2013

State of SKC - column on Sporting KC (SKC) & the Kansas City soccer scene.

On 2 different occasions in 2013, the Columbus Crew were beaten by Kansas City upon making a visit to Sporting Park. Saturday was Sporting’s turn to made the trip to Crew Stadium, but the result was no different, as the Crew missed a vital opportunity in the push for playoffs and fell to SKC by a score of 1-0.

For once, Sporting Kansas City was the team on the short end of possession percentage, with only 34.7%. That, however, is still not saying much for the Crew’s attacking prowess. Columbus only managed 1 shot on goal out of 12 total. Sporting recorded 5 shots on goal from 13 total.

Sporting made the breakthrough in the 17th minute when a recycled cross swung to Ike Opara at the back post. Opara’s uncontested leap in front of Crew goalkeeper Matt Lampson punched Kansas City into the 1-0 lead.

Columbus found a few half-chances from set pieces during the rest of the half but never controlled the match like a home team should. In the 58th minute, Matt Besler and Chad Barson were involved in a nasty collision that caused Besler to bleed profusely from the forehead. Both players kept playing.

Sporting’s lineup was more tailor-made for a midfield stalemate than a tactically dominant match. Due to Oriol Rosell’s suspension due to yellow card accumulation, Lawrence Olum played as the defensive midfielder and did not have the box-to-box element that Rosell can bring to the table. Peterson Joseph played alongside Olum in the middle, making Graham Zusi the only marquee attacking midfielder on the field.

While it seems more could have been done by SKC offensively, the defensive-minded approach preserved the shutout and the Crew was unable to get a clear chance at scoring through the entire 90 minutes.

Although the Crew were stopped from scoring, Sporting held an abysmal 34% of possession and SKC’s attacking players were once again unable to produce in front of the goal. This match again showed no great chances at scoring goals, and how fitting is it that a centerback scored the game’s only goal?

Had a questionable foul not been called in the 69th minute Opara would have scored 2 goals in this game. Soony Saad was put back into the lineup this week but again disappeared from offensive play and was replaced by Jacob Peterson in the 2nd half. Graham Zusi had another substandard performance and Sporting’s attacking ebb was disrupted because of that and the lack of another offensive-minded midfielder.

Sporting stands 3 games away from the playoffs vying; perhaps idly, but wins are wins; for a spot at the top of the Eastern Conference. SKC is currently 2 points below East leaders New York, a team that looks poised to take the Supporters’ Shield, and 4 points ahead of Houston Dynamo. Kansas City will play Houston on Wednesday.

If Sporting can win in Houston, they will lead the East and be level on games played with New York with 32. A dangerous Montreal team sits at 4th in the conference currently but having only played 30 games yet, the Impact could make a late run for the conference title. Sporting will be missing Besler and Zusi for their midweek match in Houston as both players were called up to the United States for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers.

NEXT UP: October 9 – Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting Kansas City, BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston. 8:30 p.m. EST, MLS Live.

Skylar ROLSTAD

Nationality:
USA
College:
Univ. of Kansas
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
AC Milan
A student at the University of Kansas. He writes for the Sporting Kansas City club column for Soccer Newsday and is a regular at Sporting Park. His passion for soccer can best be described as unhealthy.
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