On a blistering hot day in Kansas City, the defending champions showed why they are still the best team in the league. Sporting kept pressure on the Crew for 90 minutes, and dominated.
An unusual hero emerged 10 minutes in for KC; as Jacob Peterson (who was in the XI for Sal Zizzo) found the back of the net on a ball that ricocheted through the box to his swinging right foot. Both teams had large amounts of possession throughout. The final possession numbers were nearly 50/50. The key for Sporting however, was just game plan execution, and great saves by Eric Kronberg in-goal.
Sporting had 14 shot attempts, with 6 being on goal. The Crew had 10 attempts, with only 4 being on goal. Dom Dwyer had a great impact on the game without scoring as well, something that Peter Vermes will certainly be happy with. His pressure on Columbus’ backline led to mistakes being made, and more importantly disrupted their strategy of building up out of the back.
Federico Higuain had a few opportunistic chances for Columbus as well, with nothing coming of them. One of the legitimate chances for the Crew was from a terrific, bending ball into the box by Will Trapp in the 30th minute. The ball was bending away from goal and to the head of Bernardo Anor, only to be fantastically saved by Kronberg. The rifle header was cleared off the line by the right hand of Eric Kronberg… somehow. I honestly thought it was a goal when I watched the game, it could be save of the year.
Columbus kept pushing for an equalizer in the second half to no avail. An 80th minute yellow card to Will Trapp, his second of the match, was the killer for the Crew. They played the final 10 minutes of regular time a man down, and 5 minutes of stoppage time. KC tallied a second goal in the final minute of stoppage time from Claudio Bieler. The goal was setup by Graham Zusi dribbling around the ‘keeper and chipping a ball to Bieler for the finish.
With this win Sporting go top of the Eastern Conference on 14 points (4-2-2). Columbus are now winless in 5 straight games, and fall to 4th with 12 points (3-2-3). KC will travel to Montreal next Saturday to face a struggling Impact side. While Columbus host Vancouver on the same day.
Man of the Match: Eric Kronberg. He had 4 saves today, none that were bigger than his save in the 30th minute. Its early, but it may very well be save of the year.