Sporting Kansas City vs. Columbus Crew | MLS Match Preview

SPORTING PARK, Kansas City, Kan.
Sept. 7, 2013 (WEEK 28, MLS Game #253)
7:30 pm CT (KSMO; FS-OH)

Two teams needing points for their own distinctive races in the Eastern Conference meet on Saturday evening when Sporting Kansas City play host to the Columbus Crew at Sporting Park. SKC are coming off a late 2-1 home win against the Colorado Rapids that left the club in a three-way tie atop the Eastern Conference. The Crew hit the road five points out of fifth place and the final postseason place in the division, following their 2-0 midweek home win against Houston.


REFEREE: Jose Carlos Rivero. AR1 (bench): George Gansner; AR2 (opposite): Mark Cahen; 4th: Kevin Terry Jr.
MLS Career: 17 games; FC/gm: 26.6; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 4; pens: 6

SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: KC: Aurelien Collin, Oriol Rosell, Seth Sinovic … CLB: Tyson Wahl
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: KC: Lawrence Olum, Benny Feilhaber, Claudio Bieler, Chance Myers … CLB: Jairo Arrieta, Kevan George, Bernardo Anor, Dominic Oduro, Agustin Viana
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: KC: Matt Besler, Graham Zusi (USA) … CLB: Kevan George (Trinidad & Tobago)


ALL-TIME (47 meetings): Sporting 20 wins (2 shootout), 71 goals … Crew 21 wins (0 shootout), 77 goals … Ties 6
AT KC (22 meetings): Sporting 11 wins (1 shootout), 36 goals … Crew 9 wins (0 shootout), 38 goals … Ties 2
FUTURE MATCH: 10/5: Columbus Crew vs. Sporting Kansas City, 7:30 p.m. ET

• The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Kei Kamara’s second goal of the game, in the 80th minute, gave Sporting a 3-2 victory June 29 in Kansas City.

• It was just SKC’s second home win in the series since 2008, their first since the first meeting at Sporting Park, in 2011.

• Since the 2008 season, the Crew have won seven meetings, SKC has won four, with two draws.

• Coaches record: Peter Vermes vs. CLB: P8 W4 L3 T1 … Brian Bliss vs. KC: first game


6/29: KC 3, CLB 2 (Kamara 34, 80; Bieler 50 – Arrieta 48; Oduro 53)

• Sporting took the lead in the 34th minute. From the right touchline, Soony Saad lofted a spot-perfect 40-yard pass to Kei Kamara waiting at the front left of Columbus' penalty area, and he took one touch to settle before firing a left-footed rocket past goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum.

Highlights: SKC 3, CLB 2

• The Crew equalized in the 48th minute when Jairo Arrieta made a 65-yard-long run down the pitch before splitting the defense at the edge of the area and beating goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen. But KC was back on top just two minutes, when Chance Myers sent in a long cross from the right side that fell to Claudio Bieler for a cool finish.

• Three minutes later, the visitors were level again, when Seth Sinovic left a back pass in no man's land and Dominic Oduro raced in to nick it, rounding goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen and calmly rolling it into the open net.

• But the winner came in the 80th minute. On the counter Sporting tore back up the pitch and got the game-winner through Kamara, who finished after the ball bounded to him all alone in front of goal.

• Sporting manager Peter Vermes made three changes to the team that played to a 2-2 draw with FC Dallas in Frisco. Seth Sinovic came into the back four for Mechack Jerome, Lawrence Olum started in midfield for Paulo Nagamura, and Soony Saad came into the team for the suspended C.J. Sapong.

• SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-3-1): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic (Kevin Ellis 63) - Lawrence Olum, Oriol Rosell - Kei Kamara, Graham Zusi, Soony Saad (Ike Opara 90) - Claudio Bieler (Dom Dwyer 82).

• COLUMBUS CREW (4-4-1-1): Andy Gruenebaum - Chad Barson (Aaron Schoenfeld 89), Josh Williams, Chad Marshall, Tyson Wahl - Bernardo Anor (Konrad Warzycha 81), Kevan George, Danny O'Rourke, Jairo Arrieta - Federico Higuain - Dominic Oduro (Ben Speas 76).


Sporting Kansas City put an end to their two-match losing streak, getting a late winner for a 2-1 victory against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday evening at Sporting Park. Sporting are now in a three-way tie for first place in the Eastern Conference with 42 points from 27 matches.


• Sporting took the lead in the 33rd minute. Collecting a loose ball won by Dom Dwyer in midfield, Benny Feilhaber used the outside of his right foot to send a curling, dipping shot past Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin from all of 30 yards.

Highlights: SKC 2, COL 1

• The Rapids evened the score in the 77th minute. Substitute Edson Buddle tracked down a loose ball about 25 yards from goal and let fly with a shot that took a deflection off center back Matt Besler and past a sprawling Jimmy Nielsen in the SKC goal.

• But Sporting had the final answer two minutes from time. A Chance Myers cross was sent back into the box by C.J. Sapong and Graham Zusi finished with aplomb for the game-winner.

• Sporting manager Peter Vermes made three changes to the team that dropped a 1-0 decision to the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park. Paulo Nagamura came into the midfield in place of Peterson Joseph, and Dom Dwyer and Soony Saad started up top in place of C.J. Sapong and Teal Bunbury.

• SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-2-3): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Oriol Rosell - Paulo Nagamura, Benny Feilhaber (Kei Kamara 84) - Graham Zusi, Dom Dwyer (Teal Bunbury 74), Soony Saad (C.J. Sapong 79).


• Sporting won for a second consecutive game at home, ending their second two-game losing run over the previous five matches.

• Making a second consecutive start after missing three matches after suffering a quadriceps strain during the MLS All-Star Game, Graham Zusi scored his first goal since July 7.

• “I can’t stress how important this is for us,” Zusi said. “This was pretty much a must-win game for us. We needed to get back on track in order to put ourselves in a good spot. This will get our confidence back up and we’ll finish the season strong.”

• C.J. Sapong made his second consecutive start for Sporting since returning from a loan to USL PRO side Orlando City SC and contributed his second MLS assist this season on the winning goal.

• “C.J. is such a presence in the air,” Zusi said. “Nine times out of 10 he’s going to win it. I gave him a shout, but I don’t think I needed to because he saw me from the beginning. That was his goal from the minute he lifted off to win that ball. It was just a perfect layoff.”

• Dom Dwyer made his first MLS start, after coming on as a substitute in nine of the last 10 games after his return from a loan to Orlando City SC, and contributed his first MLS assist. Dwyer will miss the Columbus match as he returns to Orlando for the USL PRO championship match.

• “Claudio (Bieler) has had a bit of a stomach problem the past couple days. He’s gotten better, but with the heat and everything else, we were better going with someone who was 100 percent,” Vermes said. “It’s also something (Dwyer) deserves. He’s been working very hard, he’s been in good form as of late, and in a game like this, he was going to put pressure on them with his movement off the ball. He makes great diagonal runs, and he’s a kind of like (Carlos) Tevez in that he’s a little bull.”

• Benny Feilhaber scored his second goal in the last four matches, his second in a row from outside the penalty area.

• “I told him he earned some money tonight for sure. He played well in a lot of different ways – with the ball, without the ball, and a great goal. He had another shot that I thought was destined to do some damage as well that got blocked,” Vermes said.

• Paulo Nagamura made his return to the Sporting lineup for the first time since leaving June 22 match vs. FC Dallas with an injury.

• “He’s a little pit bull in there. We miss that guy in the middle of the park. He’s got great hunger, a winning mentality and provides us with a link in the midfield between the players that we have,” Vermes said. “It allows Graham to play on the wing, and Benny can play in the middle with Nagamura. He gives us more options—he allows us to put different players on each line of the field. He had a very good game. To play a 90-minute match in this weather is big time. It shows his winning mentality.”


The Columbus Crew put an end to their two-game losing slide, defeating the Houston Dynamo 2-0 on Wednesday evening at Crew Stadium. The Crew are in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 32 points from 27 matches.


• The Crew opened the scoring in the 47th minute. Bernardo Añor found Justin Meram with a beautiful diagonal pass, and he played a ball across the six-yard box for Ryan Finley to tuck away.

• The Crew had a glorious chance to double their lead when they were awarded a penalty kick after Bobby Boswell pulled back Dominic Oduro as he surged into the box. But Finley put his ensuing spot kick directly at Dynamo 'keeper Tally Hall.

Highlights: CLB 2, HOU 0

• The Crew made up for it in the 74th minute, when Meram found himself with the ball on the outside of the box after Finley was able to only deflect a cross from Oduro from the right wing. Meram faked to his right, and cut back to his left foot before sliding a low shot past Hall inside the far post.

• Crew interim head coach Brian Bliss made four changes to the team that fell 1-0 to Seattle Sounders FC at Crew Stadium. Chad Barson, Eric Gehrig, Tyson Wahl and Ethan Finlay all came into the team, in place of Josh Williams, Danny O'Rourke, Agustin Viana and Jairo Arrieta.

• COLUMBUS CREW (4-1-3-2): Matt Lampson - Chad Barson, Chad Marshall, Eric Gehrig, Tyson Wahl - Wil Trapp (Tony Tchani 39) - Ethan Finlay (Konrad Warzycha 81), Bernardo Anor, Justin Meram - Ryan Finley (Jairo Arrieta 75), Dominic Oduro.


• It was a victory in the first game in charge for interim head coach Brian Bliss, who took over at the start of the week after Robert Warzycha was dismissed from his responsibilities.

• “There's not a lot you can do on a tactical side of things in a short amount of time, that's built up over time," Bliss said. "But what [assistant coach] Mike [Lapper] and myself were trying to get across was the mentality has to change, and you can influence the mentality. I think the guys had the right frame of mind.”

• Ryan Finley scored his first professional goal, starting in a second consecutive match up top.

• Justin Meram also netted his first goal of the season, after setting up the Finley goal, involved in multiple goals in a game for the first time in his MLS career. Meram scored four goals a season ago.

• “The last couple of games we were playing pretty slow, and it's kind of easy to defend that,” Meram said. “Today, for 90 minutes, we were playing at a really great pace, and whenever you do that and you're right on the defender's back, the outside backs couldn't even really do much for them because we were giving them so much pressure, so that's great.”

• Said Bliss: “I've said it to these guys from Day 1, it's a phrase of mine, and they're going to hear it again: 'It's a running man's game.' And these guys ran tonight. They ran and they ran, and that's why they won the game.”

• Ethan Finlay made his first league start of the campaign after 14 appearances off the substitutes’ bench, playing 81 minutes in a wide midfield role.

• “You always say don’t change a winning team but there are other guys, that because they for whatever reason did not play – card suspension, red cards – you just can’t automatically jettison them from the lineup, they are a big part of our group,” Bliss said. “I don’t want to commit to whole sale changes going into Kansas City but I am sure we will some of those guys back in the lineup.”

• Eric Gehrig started in central defense for the first time since June 5 in a league match, with Josh Williams unavailable for the match.

• “[Williams] took a knock yesterday at the end of training, we had to take him out of the lineup, out of the 18, he will get looked at again tomorrow and then again on Friday before we leave, before we make a final decision whether to take him to KC,” Bliss said. “He just has a knock, and we just have to let these guys deal with it and see his mobility is.”

• There was an injury concern after the match as Wil Trapp was forced to leave before the end of the first half. Tony Tchani came on in his place for his longest shift in a league game since his last start on June 5.

• “I haven’t seen him play like that in a Crew uniform since I’ve been here, since he’s been here,” Bliss said of Tchani. “Refreshing, dominant, needed and applauded.”