There were two different stories between Sporting KC and Columbus Crew going into Saturday night’s Eastern Conference match. Kansas City was looking to get back into first place in the Eastern Conference, and challenge Real Salt Lake for the Supporter’s Shield. Columbus had just fired their manager Robert Warzycha, who had finished his professional career at the club in 2002, and took over the managing job in 2009. It was the Crew’s first game with their new interim manager Brian Bliss. Sporting KC was able to get past the Crew easily with a 3-0 win.
Kansas City was without both Graham Zusi and Matt Besler, who both started for the United States in their World Cup Qualifying loss to Costa Rica on Friday night. Zusi played 58 minutes, while Besler played the full 90. Besler picked up a yellow card late in the match that will suspend him against Mexico on Tuesday due to yellow card accumulation. Also missing from the match were Haitian internationals Peterson Joseph and Mechack Jerome, and forward Dom Dwyer went on loan for one game with Orlando City S.C. Orlando City won the USL Pro championship game on Saturday night, with Dwyer scoring four goals.
From the first kick, Sporting KC was in the driver seat. It only took the home side seven minutes to get on the score sheet when Claudio Bieler converted a penalty kick. Benny Feilhaber was taken down in the box after making some space in the penalty area, and the official awarded Kansas City with the penalty. It was Bieler’s first goal since July 13th when he scored against Toronto, and his 10th on the season.
Sporting was able to find the back of the net four minutes before the break. Bieler passed the ball of the left side to find Soony Saad. Saad was able to cut back with his right foot and hit a great shot in the upper right side of the goal. Columbus goalkeeper Matt Lampson had no chance to save it. Saad’s goal was his fourth on the season. Sporting KC would head into halftime with a 2-0 lead, and there was no doubt that Sporting KC would finish with all three points.
The third goal for Kansas City came only 10 minutes after the start of the second half. Midfielder Uri Rosell played in a great looping cross to C.J. Sapong. Sapong was able to use his athleticism to hold off Columbus defender Tyson Wahl, and headed the ball past a charging Lampson who was six yards off his line. Sapong now has two goals this season.
Columbus tried to make something happen in the last 35 minutes of the game, but there was little hope for the away side.
The win puts Sporting KC back into first place in the Eastern Conference with a two point advantage over New York, who is playing against Houston on Sunday afternoon. Sporting KC will be back in action on September 17 when Real Esteli visits Sporting Park for CONCACAF Champions League group play. Sporting KC is currently in first place in their group with six points, and are in a great position to make it through to the knockout stage. Kansas City will resume MLS play when they visit Toronto F.C. on September 21.