Sporting Kansas City have suffered back-to-back losses for the first time in 2015 following a 3-2 defeat at the Columbus Crew SC on Saturday. Marcel de Jong and Graham Zusi twice gave Sporting KC leads on the road but the Crew SC rallied in front of a sell-out crowd at MAPRE Stadium with two goals in the final 10 minutes.
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Playing the club's fifth game in 15 days, Sporting KC started strong on Saturday and took a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute. Dom Dwyer flicked a header into the path of Saad Abdul-Salaam and the rookie from Gahanna, Ohio did well coming forward from his outside back position to slot a pass across the goalmouth. De Jong ran onto the cross at the back post and sent his first-time shot into the roof of the net for his first career MLS goal.
For the sixth straight MLS match, Tim Melia made four saves with the first coming in the 26th minute to corral a shot from Kei Kamara. The former Sporting KC striker leads MLS with 18 goals, including five goals in his past five home matches, and would be held scoreless on Saturday but played a key - albeit controversial - role in the Crew SC's opening goal.
Argentine Designated Player Federico Higuain hammered a shot from 20 yards out off the underside of the crossbar and Kamara, from an offside position, was first to the rebound. The Sierra Leone international sent a sharp service across the face of the goal, ultimately finding Ethan Finlay stationed at the backpost to re-direct the ball off his chest and across the goalline.
Melia was called into action on both sides of the halftime intermission to keep the match leveled at 1-1, first with a diving punch on Justin Meram's free kick in the 40th minute and then pushing Kamara's bounced volley over the crossbar in the 62nd minute. Sporting KC would capitalize via a counter attack on the ensuing corner to restore the team's one-goal advantage.
Captain Matt Besler started the scoring sequence with his floated clearance into space along the left flank for Zusi to run onto. The U.S. MNT midfielder, making only his second start in the team's last 12 matches across all competitions due to injury and international duty, did the rest with a strike worthy of MLS goal of the week consideration. Zusi cut inside at the corner of the penalty area and curled a right-footed shot past Steve Clark for his 24th career MLS goal.
Sporting Kansas City had made the most of their scoring chances, converting both shots on goal on Saturday, and were left to weather a potent Crew SC attack that has now scored in 23 straight home MLS matches. Higuain led the way, putting himself in a one-on-one position with Melia in the 65th minute only to push his effort wide of the target.
The 30-year-old then proved pivotal on the equalizer in the 80th minute, delivering a free kick that glanced off the head of Tyson Wahl and found Tony Tchani unmarked at the back post for a tap in to continue his career-year offensively. After scoring four goals in his first five MLS seasons, the Cameroonian now has five goals in 2015 for the Crew SC.
Columbus capitalized on the momentum to steal the full three points in the 88th minute. Melia sprung low to his right to deny Higuain's volley however second-half substitute Jack McInerney cleaned up the loose ball for his first goal in a Crew SC uniform after being acquired from Montreal earlier this month.
The loss on Saturday was Sporting Kansas City's first against an Eastern Conference opponent with Orlando City SC the only cross-conference foe remaining on the schedule. Sporting KC remains in third place in the Western Conference with 10 games remaining in the regular season campaign and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final on Sept. 30.
Sporting Kansas City's four-game road trip will continue at 8 p.m. CT on Saturday against the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. The match will air live locally on 38 the Spot and across the Midwest on SKCTV affiliates with pre-game coverage starting at 7:30 p.m. CT.
2015 MLS Regular Season
Game 24 of 34
MAPFRE Stadium | Columbus, Ohio
Attendance: 20,018 (sell out)
Weather: 81 degrees and clear
1st Half: Marcel de Jong Goal
2nd Half: Graham Zusi Goal
Full Time: Video Highlights
|Sporting KC (11-6-7, 40 pts)||1||1||2|
|Columbus Crew (10-8-8, 38 pts)||1||2||3|
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Jimmy Medranda (Amadou Dia 57), Kevin Ellis, Matt Besler (c), Saad Abdul-Salaam; Graham Zusi, Mikey Lopez, Paulo Nagamura; Marcel de Jong (Krisztian Nemeth 90), Dom Dwyer, Jacob Peterson (Chance Myers 78)
Subs Not Used: Jon Kempin, Seth Sinovic, Erik Palmer-Brown, Connor Hallisey
Columbus Crew: Steve Clark; Waylon Francis, Tyson Wahl, Michael Parkhurst (c), Harrison Afful (Hector Jimenez 70); Justin Meram (Jack McInerney 64), Tony Tchani, Wil Trapp, Ethan Finlay, Federico Higuain; Kei Kamara (Cedrick Mabwati 72)
Subs Not Used: Brad Stuver, Chris Klute, Kevan George, Mohammed Saeid
|Shots on Goal||2||7|
SKC -- Dom Dwyer (caution; reckless tackle) 33
SKC -- Jimmy Medranda (caution; reckless foul) 39
SKC -- Mikey Lopez (caution; reckless tackle) 79
CLB -- Jack McInerney (caution; delaying a restart) 92+
SKC -- Marcel de Jong 1 (Saad Abdul-Salaam 1, Dom Dwyer 2) 14
CLB -- Ethan Finlay 8 (Kei Kamara 7) 35
SKC -- Graham Zusi 2 (Matt Besler 3) 62
CLB -- Tony Tchani 5 (Tyson Wahl 1, Federico Higuain 6) 80
CLB -- Jack McInerney 5 (unassisted) 88