KANSAS CITY, Kan. – The home-pitch refrain is becoming all too familiar for Sporting Kansas City: domination on the stat sheet, frustration on the scoreboard.
Sporting’s 2-1 loss to the Columbus Crew on Saturday night, their fourth straight failure to win a league match at home, came despite overwhelming advantages in every statistical column.
HIGHLIGHTS: Sporting KC 1, Columbus 2
They outshot the Crew 25-12, unleashing 19 shots – a team record for one half – after the break. They won 53.3 percent of the duels, completed 487 passes with an accuracy of 83 percent and owned 68.5 percent of the possession.
And still, they haven’t left Livestrong Sporting Park with an MLS victory since June 16, when they beat Toronto FC 2-0.
“Obviously dominating’s not good enough, you know?” said forward Kei Kamara, whose eighth-minute header staked Sporting to a 1-0 lead before the visitors stormed back behind two first-half goals from new arrival Jairo Arrieta.
“I’m sure everybody’s coming in here saying, ‘We worked hard. It was a good fight,’ but it’s better when you play dirty and get the three points than when you do so well and nothing comes your way.”
And nothing went Sporting’s way after that early goal, with miscues in their own half leading to both of Arrieta’s scores.
“We broke ourselves,” manager Peter Vermes said in the postgame news conference. “We gave up those two bad goals. The second half, there was nothing to talk about for them. We were everywhere around their box.”
Columbus goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum had a good deal to do with Sporting’s frustration, especially after the break.
He deflected two second-half shots into the crossbar – with Kansas City failing to convert on the rebound each time – and stopped Teal Bunbury twice on a 1-on-1 breakaway in the 55th minute.
There were several just-misses on Sporting’s part, too.
Matt Besler pushed his shot off a corner kick just wide in the 63rd minute, Júlio César put a blast from distance just over the crossbar in the 78th and Kamara went wide right deep in stoppage time after corralling a bouncing ball just in front of goal.
“The ball didn’t want to go in the goal,” Besler said. “But at this point, you kind of make your own luck. It’s back to the training ground again this week. We’ve just got to buckle in and kind of ride it out and keep doing the things we do, and the ball’s going to end up bouncing our way.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.