Recap: Sporting KC extends lead in East with 1-1 draw at Columbus Crew

Graham Zusi records MLS-best 15th assist on C.J. Sapong goal
Crew Stadium | Columbus, Ohio
Attendance: 13,566
Weather: Showers and 46 degrees
 
Score                                               
1
2
F
Sporting Kansas City (17-7-8, 59 pts)
0
1
Columbus Crew (14-11-7, 49 pts)
0
1
1
Sporting Kansas City: Jimmy Nielsen©; Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Lawrence Olum, Chance Myers; Julio Cesar, Paulo Nagamura, Roger Espinoza (Aurelien Collin 94+); Graham Zusi (Jacob Peterson 87); Kei Kamara, C.J. Sapong
 
Subs not used: Eric Kronberg, Michael Harrington, Oriol Rosell, Dom Dwyer, Bobby Convey
 
Columbus Crew: Andy Gruenebaum; Sebastian Miranda (Dilly Duka 84), Chad Marshall ©, Julius James, Josh Williams (Nemanja Vukovic 69); Eddie Gaven, Milovan Mirosevic, Chris Birchall, Justin Meram (Emilio Renteria 68); Jairo Arrieta, Federico Higuain
 
Subs not used: Matt Lampson, Eric Gehrig, Tony Tchani, Olman Vargas
 
Stats:
KC
CLB
Shots
14
13
Shots on Goal
5
5
Saves
4
4
Fouls
13
15
Offside
3
1
Corner Kicks 
8
3
Misconduct Summary:
CLB – Julius James (caution; reckless foul) 67
 
Scoring Summary:
KC – C.J. Sapong 8 (Graham Zusi 15, Chance Myers 7) 10
CLB – Eddie Gaven 8 (Emilio Renteria 3) 91+
 
(October 7, 2012) – Sporting Kansas City drew 1-1 with the Columbus Crew on Sunday afternoon at Columbus Crew Stadium. C.J. Sapong put Sporting KC ahead in the 10th minute with a header for his eighth goal of the year and Graham Zusi's League-leading 15th assist, but the Crew's Eddie Gaven scored in the first minute of second-half stoppage time to split the points.
 
The draw extends Sporting Kansas City’s unbeaten streak to 10 games,  the longest streak in MLS this season, and puts Sporting KC three points clear of the Chicago Fire in the quest to finish in first place in the Eastern Conference for the second straight season.
 
 
The Columbus Crew opened the game strong, with a dangerous opportunity in the sixth minute from Jairo Arrieta. He slipped behind Sporting Kansas City's defense and took two consecutive shots that were both saved superbly by goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.
 
Four minutes later, Sporting Kansas City responded through Sapong with the game's opening goal. Zusi looped in a cross from the left to the awaiting head of Sapong, whose first header was saved by the woodwork, but his second attempt slipped past Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum and into the net.
 
The visitors, who now have points in 12 of their 16 road matches this season, nearly scored a second goal in the 19th minute again off a header from Sapong. Roger Espinoza, at the top of the box, served in a cross to the 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year and his header was on target from close range, but Gruenebaum did well to deflect the shot.
 
The Crew nearly equalized in the 40th minute when Federico Higuain’s free kick from 20 yards out was struck high over the wall but punched away by Nielsen. 

The second half began with much of the same fervor as the first. Sporting KC looked to double their lead when Kei Kamara received a long ball from Zusi and tipped the ball across the mouth of the goal to Paulo Nagamura. The Brazilian settled the ball but wasn’t able to get his shot on frame.

The home side fought back in the 56th minute when Chad Marshall was on the receiving end of a free kick and headed the ball across the goal to Justin Meram. Unmarked, Meram couldn’t make contact. Five minutes later, Higuain struck with the outside of his left foot but was just high of the goal.  

 
Columbus kept at it, this time in the 64th minute on the counterattack when Arrieta charged down the left flank and struck a ball that was saved easily by Nielsen. Ten minutes later, Milovan Mirosevic curled in a dangerous ball but Chance Myers was there to head the ball away for a corner kick.
 
Sporting Kansas City found their footing in the 83rd minute when Espinoza nearly netted his first MLS goal of the 2012 season. The Honduran international made a well-placed strike at the top of the box but Gruenebaum deftly made the difficult save to keep the Crew in the game. 
 
The Crew’s perseverance paid off in the dying minutes of the game when Gaven notched the equalizer in the first minute of stoppage time. Emilio Renteria served in an arching cross to Gaven, who tipped in a low, powerful header past Nielsen to keep the Crew in reaching distance of their fifth consecutive postseason berth.
 
Sporting Kansas City's last effort to win the game came in the seventh minute of stoppage time when Jacob Peterson went one-on-one with Gruenebaum and took a shot that the Overland Park, Kan. native was well positioned to handle. 

Sporting Kansas City will enjoy a week off from MLS play in conjunction with the FIFA international match dates before traveling to face the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena at 6 p.m. CT on Saturday, Oct. 20. 

 
FAST FACTS:
 
  • Sporting Kansas City is now 17-7-8 on the season and remains in first place in the Eastern Conference with 59 points, extending their lead over second place Chicago to three points.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 71-131-61 all-time on the road and 211-206-108 in the regular season all-time.
  • Sporting Kansas City has lost only two matches since June 29th, one of which was to the Columbus Crew.
  • The loss to the Columbus Crew on July 28th marks the last time Sporting Kansas City lost during the 2012 MLS season.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 19-21-6 against the Columbus Crew all-time and 9-12-4 on the road against the Crew. 
  • With the draw, Sporting Kansas City is now undefeated in ten straight matches.
  • The streak is the longest active unbeaten streak in MLS currently and is the longest undefeated streak by an MLS team this season.
  • C.J. Sapong scored the first goal of the match in the 10th minute.
  • C.J. Sapong now has three goals and an assist in his last five MLS matches.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 12-0-2 in MLS competition (including playoffs) when C.J. Sapong scores.
  • Graham Zusi earned the assist on the play, marking his 15th of the season. The assist breaks a tie with Landon Donovan for most in MLS. It also ties him with Preki's 2000 campaign for the third most in a season in club history.
  • Zusi has now tallied at least one goal or one assist in eight of the last eleven games he has played for Sporting Kansas City.
  • Zusi has three goals and seven assists in his last 11 matches.
  • Zusi has scored or assisted on 20 of Sporting Kansas City's 40 goals this season. 
  • Zusi's assist on Sunday broke a tie with Kerry Zavagnin for sole possession of seventh place on Sporting KC's all-time chart with 23.
  • Sporting KC has outshot their opponents in each of the last 13 games. The last time Sporting KC was outshot was the 2-0 win in Columbus on July 14th.
  • Sporting Kansas City has outshot their opponent in 26 out of 32 matches in 2012.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 15-5-6 when outshooting an opponent in 2012.
  • Sporting KC has earned 28 points on the road this season with an 8-4-4 record, the second best mark away from home in MLS this season, and the most points by the club away from home in team history. 
  • Since 2000, only four MLS teams have earned more than 28 points on the road in a single season.
  • Sporting Kansas City’s 59 points are second most in MLS, five points fewer than the San Jose Earthquakes.
  • Sporting KC is averaging 1.84 points per game in 2012, also second-best behind San Jose.
  • Sporting Kansas City’s .656 winning percentage is on pace to match the best mark in team history, equaling the 1997 season.
  • Sporting Kansas City is now 14-2-4 when scoring the first goal in 2012.
  • Sporting Kansas City has scored 38 of their 40 goals from inside the penalty area in 2012.
  • Sporting KC still have the most wins (17) and best goal differential (+14) of all teams in the Eastern Conference this season.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 9-1-2 when leading at the half.
  • Sporting Kansas City drew for the first time in 18 matches in MLS competition (including playoffs) when leading at the 75-minute mark.
  • The Crew’s goal marks the first game-tying goal against Sporting Kansas City allowed after the 75th minute this season.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 14-6-7 when wearing Sporting Blue.
  • Sporting Kansas City has two games remaining in the regular season with one at home and one on the road.
  • Sporting Kansas City allowed a header goal for the first time in a span of 21 games.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 6-2-4 when allowing one goal this season.
  • Sporting Kansas City has allowed 26 goals in 32 MLS matches for a 0.81 goals against average, the best in MLS this season.
  • Sporting Kansas City has allowed only 15 goals on the road this season in 16 matches, the fewest goals allowed in the East by a team at home. That number ties their goals allowed total in 2000 for the fewest road goals conceded away from home in team history.
  • Jimmy Nielsen is the only Sporting KC player to have played every minute for the club this season. Nielsen has played in 5,130 straight minutes of MLS action (including playoffs).
  • Nielsen has started the most games, 32, and played the most minutes, 2,880, of any MLS player in 2012.
  • Nielsen started his 32nd match of the 2012 season on Sunday, tying the club record set by seven previous players.
  • He also ties Bo Oshoniyi (2005) for the most games played and games started by a goalkeeper in team history with 32, as well as minutes played by a goalkeeper (2,880) in a single season.
  • Nielsen’s 1.04 career goals against average in the regular season is the best mark in MLS history among goalkeepers with 4,000 minutes played.
  • Nielsen’s 0.81 goals against average this season is on pace to be the best mark in club history,surpassing Tony Meola’s 0.92 goals against average in 2000.
  • The 0.81 goals against average is the best mark in MLS among goalkeepers who have played in more than 20 MLS matches this season.
  • Among goalkeepers who have played in 75 percent of their team’s games in a season, only Nick Rimando (0.67 in 2010) had a lower goals against average than Nielsen in 2012.
  • Nielsen leads MLS with 17 victories and 14 shutouts this season.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 9-2-5 when the temperature is below 75 degrees at kickoff in 2012.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 6-1-1 in the Eastern time zone this season.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 11-5-6 against the Eastern Conference this season.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 14-6-7 on grass surfaces this season.
  • Sporting Kansas City leads MLS with 523 shots this season and has allowed the fewest shots against (307). 
  • Sporting Kansas City’s 523 shots surpasses the team record for most in a single-season, previously set at 514 in 1996.
  • The club has led MLS in shots in five of the past seven seasons, finishing first in shots in 2006 (408), 2007 (420), 2010 (393) and 2011 (488).
  • Sporting Kansas City leads MLS in all-time shots taken with 7,172.
  • Zusi leads MLS with 144 corner kicks this season and Sporting Kansas City leads MLS with 193. Both marks are single season records for the club.
  • Zusi surpassed Marco Etcheverry (2002) on Sunday for the third most corners taken in a season in MLS history.
  • Kei Kamara now leads MLS with 131 shots this season.
  • Kamara has the second most shots in a single-season by a KC player, behind only Preki (140), and third most in a single-season in MLS history behind Preki (140) and Mamadou Diallo (152).
  • The last time an MLS player attempted more than 130 shots in a season was in 2000 (Mamadou Diallo).
  • Sporting Kansas City made two subs on Sunday and has a record of 4-2-2 when making two subs in 2012.
  • Sporting Kansas City has gone 61 consecutive MLS matches (including playoffs) without conceding a goal on a corner kick, dating back to May 21, 2011 at Seattle.
  • Peter Vermes is 46-36-29 in MLS competition (including playoffs). The .545 winning percentage is the best winning percentage of any coach in club history.
  • Sporting Kansas City is undefeated in the last eleven games that Roger Espinoza has started for the club.
  • Espinoza left Sunday's match with a left ankle injury, sustained in second half stoppage time.
  • Julio Cesar surpassed 4,000 minutes played in the regular season in his MLS career on Sunday.
  • Seth Sinovic surpassed 6,000 minutes played in MLS competition (including playoffs) in his career on Sunday.
  • Bobby Convey was in the Sporting KC lineup on Sunday for the first time since August 4th, making his return to the matchday squad after missing the team's last eight matches.
  • Aurelien Collin played his 50th regular season match for Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.