Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sporting to Columbus: May the Fourth (Place) Be With You.

The day couldn't have been much better. The sun was out and the weather was warm. The coaches and players were presented their rings by a group of specially selected fans. The stands were full and the visitor's net was empty.

Sporting Kansas City celebrated their 2013 MLS Cup title before today's game with the Columbus Crew. About an hour before kickoff, players and coaches received their rings. Billed on the video board as the largest ring in MLS history, it had diamonds galore, including in the club's shield on top. As each player or coach's name was called, a fan came up with their ring in a nice wooden box, which actually had a light inside when the lid was open.

As for the game, Sporting KC likes to play Columbus. They are unbeaten in their last seven against the Crew (6-0-1), and have scored a first half goal in their last eight matches the yellow soccer team.

It didn't take long to get on the board. Jacob Peterson, with the rare start, was in the right place at the right time and put a rebound in the back of the net. It was unassisted, but Nagamura's shot created the opportunity.

The play of the game for me was actually made by goalkeeper Eric Kronberg. Columbus midfielder Will Trapp played the ball into Bernardo Anor from just outside the penalty area on the right. Anor jumped and snapped a powerful header almost directly at Kronberg's feet. Kronberg dropped almost on top of the ball and got an arm down to keep the ball out and Oriol Rossell cleared the rebound. It was a Save of the Week candidate.

Claudio Bieler tapped in a goal in stoppage time in the 2nd half to complete the 2-0 scoreline. It put the icing on a victory that seemed to be a foregone conclusion, at least to me, when Trapp picked up his second yellow card in the 80th minute for a foul on Benny Feilhaber. To make matters worse for Columbus, the ref could have handed out a second red for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity, but played the advantage, which resulted in the Bieler goal.

Next up for Sporting KC is a match on Saturday, May 10, in Montreal against the Impact.

By the way, the idea for the headline on today's post came from beat writer Steve Brisendine. Told me he couldn't use it, but I couldn't pass it up. Thanks, Steve.

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