The Columbus Crew's winless streak extended to five games on Sunday, this time in a 2-0 losing effort to Sporting Kansas City. The result moves Sporting to a threeway tie for the top of the Eastern Conference, while dropping the Crew to fourth place, two points back.
Similar to how the New York Red Bulls began the game against Columbus, Kansas City came out with high pressure, looking to force errors out of the Crew and though Columbus handled it better than last week, it didn't take long for SKC to get on the board.
After Graham Zusi brought Sporting into the attack, midfielder Paulo Nagamura delivered a low cross to a late arriving Dom Dwyer. The forward's strike was blocked by Ginacarlo Gonzalez, but his clearance deflected off teammate Michael Parkhurst and fell to the feet of Kansas City's Jacob Peterson, who fired a low shot passed Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark.
It was solid play from Sporting goalkeeper Eric Kronberg that kept the home team in front.
In the 34th minute, midfielder Wil Trapp sent a dangerous ball into the box. The cross found the head of midfielder Bernardo Anor - who returned to the Columbus lineup after a one game suspension - but the downward header attempt was saved on the line by Kronberg.
Minutes later it was Clark keeping the Black and Gold in the game after midfielder Seth Sinovic lost his mark and found hiimself one-on-one with the keeper. Clark made himself big and deflected the shot away to keep the Black and Gold down by just one.
After Kansas City opened the second half with Zusi finding Dwyer in the box for an opportunity that went wide, the Crew began to create chances to level the match.
In the 63rd minute, Federico Higuain forced another save from Kronberg, taking advantage of a Sinovic slip. Two minutes later Anor was given space outside the box and the keeper parried the shot away. The rebound fell to striker Jairo Arrieta, but the flag went up for offside.
After both teams created minor opportunities to find the back of the net, things became much tougher on the Black and Gold. In the 80th minute, Trapp - who has anchored the Columbus midfield to near perfection this season - received a second yellow card for a late tackle on Benny Feilhaber.
The Crew's number 20 will miss Wednesday's clash with the Houston Dynamo as a result of the double booking.
As the Black and Gold looked for the late equalizer, SKC were able to double their lead on a mistake by Parkhurst.
The Crew center back had a hard first touch on a bouncing ball that fell right to Soony Saad. Parkhurst recovered to prevent Saad from getting a shot off, but the ball went straight to Zusi who found a wide open Claudio Bieler in the box. The second half substitute had no issue finding the open net after Clark had come out to close down Zusi.
It was match where Columbus created the chances but were unable to finish them, something that has become part of the script this season.
The Black and Gold travel to Houston on Wednesday for another Eastern Conference game before returning home next weekend to welcome the Vancouver Whitecaps.