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Columbus Crew SC ties with Sporting Kansas City, keeps unbeaten run going

Kamara’s header makes over for Jonathan’s mistake as the team takes one point at home.

MLS: Sporting KC at Columbus Crew SC Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Gregg Berhalter discusses Columbus Crew SC's 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City.

Posted by Massive Report on Sunday, September 10, 2017

A header by Ola Kamara extended Columbus Crew SC’s unbeaten run to five games but the Black & Gold could not leave MAPFRE Stadium with all three points on Sunday as the team tied 1-1 with Sporting Kansas City, the best defensive team in MLS.

The result keeps Crew SC on track in the playoff race as Columbus remains in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 43 points and five more matches to play. The Black & Gold have a six-point advantage over the Montreal Impact, that sits just below the red line.

The game started with an expected battle for possession in the midfield. Kansas City dominated the first part of the half, controlling the ball. The domination turned into a lead in the 19th minute, when Matt Besler sent a long ball forward, center back Jonathan Mensah failed to deflect it with a bicycle kick and the pass found Cristian Lobato in great position to score.

The goal made Crew SC push more offensively and the team had a few good chances between the 20th and the 25th minutes. The first was with Kamara, who shot from inside the box but goalkeeper Tim Melia easily saved it. After that, Pedro Santos and Federico Higuain attempted long shots but the first went over the crossbar and the second was deflected by SKC's goalkeeper.

In the 30th minute, Crew SC escaped from getting punished for a bad pass from Zack Steffen as the goalkeeper stepped up to stop Benny Feilhaber’s shot.

The Black & Gold kept pushing and had a legit chance in the 35th minute when Higuain fed Kamara with a flick heel pass but the striker couldn’t hit the goal. Kamara shouted for a penalty kick when he was challenged by Besler, but the referee didn’t call it after being assisted by video review.

Ten minutes later, Kamara finally could celebrate as he anticipated SKC’s defenders on a corner taken by Pedro Santos and headed the ball in the near post to tie the match before the halftime whistle.

The second half started slower and Crew SC had the first good opportunity at the 55th minute when winger Justin Meram made a good run through the left and fed Kamara, who had his shot blocked twice by the defenders.

The Norwegian kept battling and had another good look at the 61st minute after a pass from Higuain, but lost his balance and missed the shot. One minute later, SKC looked dangerous in a long-range effort from Ilie Sánchez that made Steffen stretch to save. Crew SC’s goalkeeper had to work again the 65th when he stopped Daniel Salloi from inside the box.

Gregg Berhalter sent Adam Jahn and Cristian Martinez to the field to replace Kamara and Santos and the team lost a good portion of its offensive power. However, when Meram and Higuain joined forces, Crew SC created a great opportunity, but Melia saved the Argentinean’s short-range, left-foot finish.

Sporting had a final opportunity to score with five minutes left when Feilhaber found Salloi free in the box, but his shot was just wide.

Kamara is on fire

The Norwegian forward scored the equalizer in the final minute of the first half and kept his impressive recent scoring form. Now with 15 goals in 2017, Kamara found the back of the net for the third straight match having scored in four of his last five games with Crew SC. It was his 31st goal for the Black & Gold and he now ranks 10th in the club’s all-time goal-scoring list.

Not looking good on TV

Despite of the announced 17,089 attendance, the feeling at MAPFRE Stadium was that the stadium was far from that full. Several empty areas could be spotted in the stands in the team’s first real nationally televised game of the season.

It is important to note, though, that the date selected by MLS to put Crew SC on national TV didn’t help since both the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals both kicked off the team’s first game of the 2017 NFL seasons at the same time as Columbus.

What’s Next

Next Saturday, Crew SC plays on the road for the first time since August 19th as the team heads to Canada to face the Vancouver Whitecaps at the BC Place. The Canadians are undefeated in their last four matches (three wins, one tie) but will have a midweek match against Minnesota United on Wednesday before, one that the Black & Gold will take in live.