Columbus Crew vs. Sporting Kansas City | MLS Match Preview

CLBvSKC, 10-5-2013

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COLUMBUS CREW vs SPORTING KANSAS CITY
COLUMBUS CREW STADIUM, Columbus, Ohio
Oct. 4, 2013 (WEEK 32, MLS Game #292)
7:30 p.m. ET (FS-OH; KSMO)

The Columbus Crew will be looking to keep their hot streak going in their climb up the Eastern Conference against a Sporting Kansas City aiming to reclaim the top spot when the clubs meet Saturday evening at Crew Stadium. The Crew have won three games in a row and are now just a point outside the top five after their 4-2 victory at FC Dallas last weekend. Sporting saw their two-game winning run come to an end in a 1-0 home loss to Philadelphia last week, now four points behind MLS overall leader New York in the division standings.

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REFEREE: Jorge Gonzalez. AR1 (bench): Brian Dunn; AR2 (opposite): Scott Kachmarik; 4th: Kevin Terry Jr.
MLS Career: 103 games; FC/gm: 25.2; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 35; pens: 26

DISABLED LIST: none
SUSPENDED: KC: Oriol Rosell (caution accumulation; through Oct. 6)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CLB: Bernardo Anor, Jairo Arrieta … KC: Claudio Bieler, Aurelien Collin, Benny Feilhaber, Seth Sinovic
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CLB: Tyson Wahl, Kevan George, Dominic Oduro, Agustin Viana, Danny O’Rourke, Tony Tchani, Wil Trapp … KC: Lawrence Olum, Paulo Nagamura, Chance Myers, Ike Opara, Peterson Joseph
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (48 meetings): Crew 21 wins (0 shootout), 77 goals … Sporting 21 wins (2 shootout), 74 goals … Ties 6
AT COLUMBUS (22 meetings): Crew 12 wins (0 shootout), 39 goals … Sporting 9 wins (1 shootout), 35 goals … Ties 4

2013 (MLS)
6/29: KC 3, CLB 2 (Kamara 34, 80; Bieler 50 – Arrieta 48; Oduro 53)
9/7: KC 3, CLB 0 (Bieler 7; Saad 41; Sapong 55)

  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season, the earlier contests each won at home by Sporting. Kei Kamara’s second goal of the game, in the 80th minute, gave KC a 3-2 victory June 29; Claudio Bieler. Soony Saad and C.J. Sapong scored in a 3-0 Sporting victory on Sept. 7.
  • Sporting have won the last two meetings, after the Crew won the final two encounters in 2012. The teams have evenly split their last eight meetings, since the 2010 season.
  • Coaches record: Peter Vermes vs. CLB: P9 W5 L3 T1 … Brian Bliss vs. KC: P1 W0 L1 T0

LAST MEETING (MLS)

  • Sporting had the lead after just the seventh minute. SKC's Benny Feilhaber made a run into the area and was tripped up by Wil Trapp, and referee Jose Carlos Rivero wasted no time before pointing to the spot. Claudio Bieler buried the resulting spot kick just inside the right post.
  • In the 41st minute, it was Bieler's turn to provide the setup. He played the ball wide to Soony Saad on the left side of the penalty area, and Saad rounded a defender before putting his shot inside the far post.
  • C.J. Sapong put the exclamation point on the victory in the 55th minute when he rose up over Crew defender Tyson Wahl near the penalty spot and headed home Oriol Rosell's long diagonal ball.
  • KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen stopped Jairo Arrieta's shot the 78th minute for his only save of the night.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-2-3): Jimmy Nielsen - Josh Gardner, Ike Opara, Aurelien Collin, Seth Sinovic - Oriol Rosell - Paulo Nagamura, Benny Feilhaber (Jimmy Medranda 90) - C.J. Sapong, Claudio Bieler (Teal Bunbury 76), Soony Saad (Jacob Peterson 64).
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-1-3-2): Matt Lampson - Chad Barson, Chad Marshall (Danny O'Rourke 28), Eric Gehrig, Tyson Wahl - Wil Trapp - Ethan Finlay (Tony Tchani 46), Bernardo Anor, Justin Meram (Jairo Arrieta 59) - Dominic Oduro, Ryan Finley.

COLUMBUS CREW
The Columbus Crew made it three wins in a row, going to FC Dallas and coming away with a 4-2 victory on Sunday evening at Toyota Stadium. The Crew are in a tie for fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 41 points from 31 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The Crew took the lead in the ninth minute through some strange fortune. Put in alone on FCD goalkeeper Raúl Fernández behind the home defense, Federico Higuain rounded the 'keeper, only to see George John clear the ball. But the clearance was sent straight back at Higuain, where it caromed into the net.
  • Eight minutes later, the Crew doubled the lead when Dominic Oduro blazed forward out of midfield up the right flank before finding Jairo Arrieta open in the area for an emphatic finish off the underside of the crossbar.
  • The home side pulled a goal back three minutes later. Mauro Diaz was fouled just inside the halfway line but quickly popped up and hit a perfect through ball to Blas Pérez, who buried a low shot in the far corner after going in alone on Columbus 'keeper Matt Lampson.
  • The Crew restored the two-goal margin just before halftime. Dominic Oduro capped a fine individual effort where he won a 50-50 ball and got free in the penalty area before placing his shot past Fernández.
  • FCD again narrowed the deficit in the 54th minute when fullback Zach Loyd carried the ball up the left flank and centered to Diaz just outside of the Crew area. Diaz then beat several Columbus defenders on the dribble and pirouetted around Lampson before tapping in.
  • But the game was put out of reach in the 86th minute when Bernardo Anor controlled a chipped pass from Higuaín and slammed it home from inside the penalty area.
  • Crew interim head coach Brian Bliss kept the same team for a third consecutive match, maintaining the group that rolled to a 3-0 win against the Chicago Fire at Crew Stadium.
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-4-1-1): Matt Lampson - Chad Barson (Josh Williams 75), Tyson Wahl, Chad Marshall, Agustin Viana - Dominic Oduro (Ethan Finlay 56), Wil Trapp, Tony Tchani, Bernardo Anor - Federico Higuain - Jairo Arrieta (Ryan Finley 79).

TEAM NEWS

  • The Crew extended their winning streak to a season-high three games in the defeat of FC Dallas. The win also left the Crew a point outside the top five in the Eastern Conference; they haven’t been in a playoff position since mid-May.
  • “The ball's in our court a little bit. We're putting some pressure on the teams ahead of us,” Crew interim head coach Brian Bliss said. “Our guys feel good about our game, they feel good about each other, they feel good about themselves individually. We've just got to carry this momentum and keep going.”
  • Since taking over as interim head coach, Bliss has seen his charges post a 4-1-0 record; the Crew have scored 11 goals in five games since Bliss took over.
  • “Two if not three of those goals were textbook in terms of what we've been thinking about and how we've been training. It's a little bit of high-risk, high-reward kind of play,” Bliss said. “ … It's predicated on defending wherever the ball is. That wouldn't change whether it was game 10 or 28. Maybe from first minute to last minute, the tempo we're playing at would be difficult to continue over a 34-game stretch. In terms of what we expect from the guys in their certain positions, nothing would change.”
  • Dominic Oduro scored for a third consecutive match, while Federico Higuaín scored for a second game in a row. Oduro has 12 goals and Higuaín has 11; the Crew are one of two teams with two players with 10 goals or more (also Philadelphia).
  • “We keep talking about our ability to run and run for each other. When guys are running and making themselves available, the guy on the ball has multiple options that may lead to a goal scoring chance,” Bliss said. “That's probably contributed to the fact that we've scored more and guys are showing up on the scoresheet more often. It's a byproduct of it.”
  • Higuaín also contributed his ninth assist of the season, his third in the last three games after going more than two months without an assist.
  • “We take pride in our offense. We have great guys, guys who are explosive, me included,” Oduro said. “Most of all I’m happy we came out with the points that we needed. We just want to keep focused and keep the momentum.”
  • Jairo Arrieta returned to the scoresheet in a league game for the first since June 29, netting his third MLS goal of the year.
  • Bernardo Anor scored for a second consecutive game, playing as a winger opposite Oduro, and now has four goals this season; his first two goals also came in consecutive games, July 4-7.
  • “I think both of us kind of fit in the roles pretty well,” Añor said. “We can be isolated one-on-one with a defender and create a chance, be dangerous, and provide the team a good play. If either of us tuck into the middle, it's with the idea of being more creative, having more possession of the ball, and trying to find the tempo of the game.” Said Oduro: “I'm not a natural winger, clearly. I prefer playing forward. But it's something I've got to do for the team. The coaches give me the confidence to come in sometimes and do what I do. I'm adjusting, but so far it's been good for me.”

SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City saw their winning streak come to an end after three games, falling 1-0 to Philadelphia Union on Friday evening at Sporting Park. Sporting are in second place in the Eastern Conference with 48 points from 30 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The game's lone goal came in the 36th minute. From a scrum in the Sporting penalty area, goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen was able to block Michael Farfan's shot from close range. But the ball fell to Conor Casey for a point-blank putaway from the rebound into the center of the goal.
  • Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath finished with five saves, including three big stops in the first half, two of them of the acrobatic variety.
  • Sporting manager Peter Vermes made one change to the team that defeated Toronto FC 2-1 at BMO Field. Oriol Rosell came into the center of midfield in place of Lawrence Olum.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-2-3): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Ike Opara, Aurelien Collin, Seth Sinovic - Oriol Rosell - Graham Zusi, Benny Feilhaber (Peterson Joseph 75) - Jacob Peterson (Soony Saad 46), Dom Dwyer (Claudio Bieler 66), C.J. Sapong.

TEAM NEWS

  • Sporting Kansas City had their three-game winning streak put to an end in the home loss to Philadelphia Union.
  • “We dominated the game in all aspects. At the end of the day, we had a lot of chances around the goal. We had a lot of looks and a lot of opportunities, but zero goals, which is the biggest thing,” said SKC manager Peter Vermes. “At the end of the day we just need to score. Sometimes a team is going to get a goal on you, but with the number of chances we had, we had to score and that's on the attack today. Our heart was there, and our determination was there, we just weren't clinical around the goal.”
  • It was also a fourth shutout at the attacking end over the last nine matches. Since July 7, Sporting have scored multiple goals in eight of 12 matches; the other four have been shutouts.
  • “When you have that many chances, you have that much of the game, you have that much pressure on the other team, you've got to score to open up the game,” Vermes said. “We put too much pressure on ourselves defensively by not scoring earlier. And their goalkeeper came up with some big saves, so credit to him as well.”
  • It was their fifth loss this season at Sporting Park, tied for third-most home losses in the league.
  • “If you look at our road record, why is it so good? Why is it one of the best in the league? It's a simple equation,” Vermes said. “The other teams are playing at home. They have to play. Because if they don't, their fans are going to boo them. So we go to play at those places, and we do, and when those teams want to play, I'll stack us up against anybody.
  • Ike Opara played center back alongside Aurelien Collin for a third consecutive match. U.S. international Matt Besler has not played for the club in a league game since Aug. 31.
  • After missing the Toronto FC match with a hamstring injury, Claudio Bieler was able to return to duty, coming on for the final 24 minutes in place of Dom Dwyer.
  • Following a one-match absence, Oriol Rosell returned to the starting lineup. But he will be miss the Columbus match, unavailable due to yellow card accumulation.