Kamara, Besler Celebration vs Columbus
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Recap: SKC in first place after 2-1 win over Crew

MLS Game #31
Wednesday, September 28, 2011, 7:30 p.m. CT
English TV: KSMO-TV
Spanish TV: Time Warner Cable Ch. 5
Spanish Radio: La Gran D 1340 AM

LIVESTRONG Sporting Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 83 degrees
Attendance: 17,838
Video: Match Highlights

Score                                                  1     2     F
Sporting Kansas City (11-9-11, 44 pts)   1     1     2
Columbus Crew (11-12-8, 41 pts)           1     0     1      

Sporting Kansas City: Jimmy Nielsen; Chance Myers, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Seth Sinovic; Julio Cesar, Davy Arnaud© (Lawrence Olum 77), Graham Zusi; Kei Kamara, C.J. Sapong, OmarBravo (Michael Harrington 86)

Subs not used: Eric Kronberg, Teal Bunbury, Jeferson, Peterson Joseph, Soony Saad

Columbus Crew: William Hesmer; Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall©, Julius James, Shaun Francis; Kevin Burns, Emmanuel Ekpo, Robbie Rogers (Tommy Heinemann 82), Dilly Duka (Jeff Cunningham 84); Andres Mendoza, Emilio Renteria (Justin Meram 71)

Subs not used: Andy Gruenebaum, Cole Grossman, Josh Gardner, Eric Gehrig

Stats:              KC      CLB
Shots                14         8
Shots on Goal    5          4
Saves                3          3
Fouls                15       10
Offside              2          2
Corner Kicks      6          2

Misconduct Summary:
CLB – Shaun Francis (Caution; Reckless Tackle) 36
KC – Matt Besler (Caution; Reckless Foul) 43
KC – Aurelien Collin (Caution; Reckless Foul) 76

Scoring Summary:
KC – Kei Kamara 9 (penalty kick) 15
CLB – Emilio Renteria 7 (Robbie Rogers 7) 34

Sporting Kansas City overcame the Columbus Crew by a 2-1 scoreline Wednesday night at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. The win sees Sporting Kansas City take sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference with just three matches left to play in the 2011 MLS regular season.

A Kei Kamara penalty kick was temporarily cancelled out by a strike on the counterattack from Crew forward Emilio Renteria, but a Julius James own goal in the 74th minute ensured all three points for Sporting Kansas City in front of a midweek crowd of 17,838 fans. The match also marked the 237th regular appearance for captain Davy Arnaud, equaling the club record held by current assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin.

Sporting Kansas City would earn the first chance of the match in just the sixth minute of play from a set piece. Following a foul on Arnaud just over the halfway line, Graham Zusi served a free kick into the area that was flicked on well by Aurelien Collin. Collin’s flick found Omar Bravo lurking at the far post, but the Designated Player had his juggle and volley effort turned away well by Crew goalkeeper Will Hesmer at the near post.

Kamara’s goal from the penalty spot put Sporting Kansas City in front in the 15th minute. With Columbus building out of midfield, Chance Myers stepped up and intercepted a pass outside of the area. Myers fed rookie forward C.J. Sapong who drove into the box and was felled by Crew defender Chad Marshall. Referee Hilario Grajeda pointed to the spot and Kamara duly converted, sending Hesmer the wrong way for his ninth goal of the season.

Four minutes later, Columbus answered back with a chance of their own. Withtime on the ball and space down the right, Crew defender Sebastian Miranda whipped a teasing cross into the Sporting Kansas City penalty area. The service was angled behind the backline and intended for Andres Mendoza, but the forward could not reach the cross in time to direct an effort on goal.

The Crew would earn a second consecutive chance in the 35th minute, and this time they converted. Midfielder Robbie Rogers, running in space down the left channel, played a pass for Renteria streaking towards the penalty area. With time and space to take a series of touches, Renteria finished low past Jimmy Nielsen to level the score at 1-1.

In the 40th minute, Sporting nearly retook the lead through another set piece. From a free kick near midfield, Zusi drove a ball straight towards the near post that was taken early by Matt Besler. The All-Star centerback whipped around the struck the ball over his shoulder with his left foot, but the effort fizzed just over the bar as the two sides went into the halftimebreak.

The first chance after the halftime break fell to Sporting Kansas City. With the ball at the edge of the area, Zusi curled in a cross that was knocked down in the area by a recovering Shaun Francis. The ball fell for an onrushing Myers, but the defender’s low strike on goal was deflected off the post by James.

In the 73rd minute Crew midfielder Dilly Duka created a chance for himself, cutting inside of Seth Sinovic before hitting a low drive straight at Nielsen. Just a minute later, Sporting Kansas City would go in front again. A throw-in from the right touchline by Besler was hurled into the penalty area with power. Multiple players from both sides rose to get their head to it, but in the end it wasJames who directed the throw into his own goal, the ball flicking behind him and looping over Hesmer.

The Crew very nearly equalized in the 85th minute, when Mendoza had two attempts denied in the area. A long ball out of the back from James wasdummied by substitute forward Tommy Heinemann, who allowed the ball to run beyond him for Mendoza. Mendoza took a touch to set himself before firing a shot that was turned away from close range by Nielsen. The Peruvian forward thencollected the rebound, but fired high of goal under pressure from Besler.

Sporting Kansas City will next travel to face the San Jose Earthquakes at 9:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, October 1st at Buck Shaw Stadium. The match will be shown live on KSMO-TV, beginning with a 30-minute pre-game show.

FAST FACTS

• Sporting Kansas City is now 11-9-11 and moves into sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference with three games remaining in the regular season.

• Sporting Kansas City now holds sole possession of first place since for the first time April 2009 when the club sat atop the East six games into the season.

• Sporting Kansas City is also in first place in the month of September for the first time since finishing with the Western Conference’s best record in 2004.

• Sporting Kansas City is 18-20-5 all-time against the Columbus Crew with a 10-8-2 record at home in the series.

• Sporting Kansas City has lost only three times in their past 23 MLS matches.

• Sporting Kansas City has a +7 goal differential in 2011, the best margin in the Eastern Conference.

• Sporting Kansas City has scored 46 goals in 31 MLS matches this season, tied for second most among all MLS teams.

• Sporting Kansas City has scored 23 goals in the first-half of MLS matches this season, second most in MLS and one behind the New York Red Bulls.

• Columbus has scored the fewest goals in MLS in the first half (8), but have scored the most goals in MLS in the second half (28) this season.

• Sporting Kansas City has attempted the second most shots in MLS this season with 422.

• Sporting Kansas City’s +11 goal differential at home in 2011 is the best margin in the Eastern Conference.

• Kei Kamara’s goal in the 15th minute was his ninth of the season, tying him with Omar Bravo for the team lead.

• Kamara leads the team with 22 points this season on nine goals and four assists.

• Kamara’s goal was the 20th of his career for Sporting KC, tying him with Mark Chung for 8th most on Sporting KC’s all-time goal scoring chart.

• Kamara now has a goal or an assist in five of his last six matches.

• Kamara converted his second penalty kick of the season and becomes only the ninth Sporting KC player to convert two or more penalty kicks for the club.

• Sporting Kansas City is now four of four on penalty kicks in 2011, with Kamara and Bravo each converting two this season.

• Sporting Kansas City received their second own goal of 2011 on Wednesday, as Crew defender Julius James headed a Matt Besler throw-in into his own net in the 74th minute.

• The own goal marks the fifth goal Sporting Kansas City has scored as a direct result of a Besler throw-in this season.

• Sporting Kansas City captain Davy Arnaud returned to the starting lineup on Wednesday for the first time since June 22nd – a span of 17 MLS matches – after recovering from sports hernia surgery.

• Arnaud’s appearance was the 237th of his Sporting KC and MLS career, tying current assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin for the most regular season games played by a Sporting KC player all-time.

• Since 2003, Arnaud ranks fifth in MLS for most games played (233) among all Major League Soccer players.

• Arnaud also surpassed 20,000 minutes played in his Sporting KC career when including postseason, becoming only the third Sporting KC player to break the barrier for the club along with Zavagnin and Nick Garcia.

• Sporting Kansas City striker C.J. Sapong started and played 90 minutes on Wednesday and is the only Sporting Kansas City player to appear in all 31 MLS matches for the club this season.

• Sapong leads all MLS rookies in games played (31) and points (12) in 2011.

• Defender Matt Besler has started 24 straight MLS matches for Sporting Kansas City, the most of all current players.

• Defender Lawrence Olum made his MLS debut on Wednesday, entering in the 77th minute for Arnaud.

• Sporting Kansas City has now had 31 different players appear in an MLS match in 2011.

• With the victory, Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen is tied for the fourth most wins among MLS goalkeepers with 10 in 2011.

• Nielsen made three saves in the win, his most since a 2-1 loss to the Seattle Sounders FC on August 6th.

• Sporting Kansas City has scored the most goals in MLS between the 61st and 75th minutes in 2011 with 12, matching the LA Galaxy and D.C. United.

• Columbus Crew have conceded 10 penalty kicks in 2011, most in a single season in club history. All 10 have been successfully converted.

• Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza missed Wednesday’s match with a quad strain.

• The first 5,000 fans in attendance received a complimentary Sporting KC t-shirt, courtesy of match sponsor Pepsi.

• Wednesday was also Buck-A-Brat Night at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, courtesy of Johnsonville and Roma Bakery.

• The inaugural class of Sporting 22 was honored on Wednesday with a pre-game gathering at LIVESTRONG SportingPark, as well as on-field recognition of halftime of the match. Sporting Kansas City also wore commemorative Sporting 22 patches on the uniforms for the match.

• US Open mixed doubles champion and Overland Park, Kansas native Jack Sock was in attendance at Wednesday’s match and was recognized on-field prior to kickoff. Sock attended Blue Valley North High School and was a classmate of SportingKansas City goalkeeper Jon Kempin.

• Red Bull Air Force delivered the match ball and a Sporting Kansas City flag via an aerial arrival immediately prior to kickoff on Wednesday.

RECORD BREAKDOWN

• Sporting Kansas City is 8-2-6 at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park since its opening on June 9th.

• Sporting Kansas City is 2-5-4 when tied at halftime in 2011.

• Sporting Kansas City is 10-3-2 when scoring the first goal in 2011.

• Sporting Kansas City is 4-3-1 when scoring two goals in 2011 and 5-4-6 when allowing one goal in 2011.

• Sporting Kansas City is 11-6-10 when wear all-Sporting Blue uniforms in 2011.

• Sporting Kansas City is 11-2-1 when leading in the 75th minute in 2011.

• Sporting Kansas City is 8-4-8 when outshooting opponents in 2011.

• Sporting Kansas City is 4-4-6 against Eastern Conference opponents this season.

• Sporting Kansas City is 10-7-10 on natural grass playing surfaces this season.

• Sporting Kansas City is 9-3-7 when playing in the Central time zone in 2011.

• Sporting Kansas City is 8-2-5 when the temperature is 75 degrees or above at kickoff in 2011.

• Sporting Kansas City is 10-9-7 on KSMO-TV in 2011.

• Sporting Kansas City lost only once in the month of September, going 2-1-2 and now have an all-time record in the month of 22-31-11.

• Sporting Kansas City is 130-72-43 all-time at home and 192-199-99 all-time.