The Columbus Crew saw their meager two-match unbeaten streak come to an end Saturday evening with a 1-0 loss to the Kansas City Wizards at Crew Stadium.
While trying to build of the first victory of the year and looking for redemption for their season-opening loss to Kansas City, the Crew were undone late in the second half through a string of passes from Jack Jewsbury and Sasha Victorine that led to Josh Wolff's first goal of the season.
Despite coming off the first win and shutout of the campaign one week ago against the Los Angeles Galaxy, Sigi Schmid was forced by injuries to make three changes in his starting 11.
The center defense was completely revamped as Marcos Gonzalez (who exited the Galaxy match with a left hamstring injury) and Chad Marshall did not start. Marshall suffered a right hip flexor injury in practice this week and was unable to pass a pre-match fitness test. Veterans Rusty Pierce and Ritchie Kotschau paired in the center defense in their absence, while Tim Ward made his first start for the Crew at left back.
The Wizards also had an injury which forced Bob Gansler into a change on his back line. Shavar Thomas subbed into Nick Garcia's spot, as Garcia missed his first match of the season with a right hand injury.
The Crew's improvised backline was almost exposed early for an early goal for the Wizards. A booming pass in the eighth minute from Jermaine Hue found Wolff after Kotschau had trouble judging the bounce, but Wolff's shot did not bother Columbus goalkeeper Jon Busch, who made the save.
The Crew's injury list was extended a couple of minutes later. Eddie Gaven was fouled by Kerry Zavagnin near midfield and suffered a severe left ankle sprain. Kei Kamara replaced Gaven in the 15th minute.
Last week's hero, Kyle Martino, made his way back into the lineup but was unable to convert from a pair of first-half chances. Following a foul by Jimmy Conrad on Jason Garey, Ward's free kick was easily cleared, but Martino one-timed the clearance just over the bar from 25 yards. Martino also latched onto a nice cross from Jose Retiz, but blasted his shot well over Bo Oshoniyi's goal. Martino replaced Jacob Thomas, who left the Galaxy match with a severely sprained right ankle.
In between the pair of chances for Martino, Wolff nearly gave the Wizards the lead. Wolff chased down a pass to space from Sasha Victorine and slipped a shot past Busch but just wide of the goal in the 23rd minute.
The Crew opened up the second half with a good chance on a corner kick. Sebastian Rozental's service found Frankie Hejduk at the far post. Hejduk centered the ball to Kotschau, who shot into a melee in front of the goal, but the Wizards were able to clear before any Crew player could locate the ball.
Minutes later there was a threat after Kamara found space on the left flank before seeing his cross deflect off of Thomas. The ball was approaching the Wizards goal, but Oshoniyi, despite being on the ground because of the deflection, was able to flick the ball with his foot out for a corner.
Even though the Crew had the better chances of the second half, Kansas City drew blood in the 74th minute. Jewsbury, a halftime substitute for Hue who left with a cut lip, played a fantastic ball to Victorine. Victorine beat Pierce with pace and had the chance to go in alone on Busch. However, the Wizards midfielder squared the ball to Wolff to hit the ball into the empty net.
A superb save by Jon Busch several minutes from time on Davy Arnaud gave the Crew hope for a late equalizer. However, the Crew could not find the late-game magic for the second consecutive week. Hejduk tried to send home a Martino cross deep into injury time, but his shot went wide of the goal.
The Crew make another voyage west on Saturday with a match at winless Real Salt Lake while the Wizards play host to the Chicago Fire on the same day.
John Kuhn is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.