Sporting Kansas City moved into second place in the Eastern Conference with a 3-2 win over the Columbus Crew on Saturday night. Kei Kamara scored twice and Claudio Bieler added a third in front of more than 20,000 fans for the 25th straight MLS sell-out at Sporting Park.
Sporting KC controlled the run of play early and had the better of the scoring opportunities in the first half. Soony Saad, making his first League appearance since April 20, was in the thick of the action and tested Andy Gruenebaum once and set up two other opportunities.
In the fifth minute, Saad curled in a ball from the left side of the box toward a streaking Kamara. The Sierra Leone international beat his man to the penalty spot but pushed a header just wide of the far post.
Saad was at it again in the 10th minute, testing Gruenebaum with a knuckling strike from the top of the box. The Crew goalkeeper and Overland Park, Kan. native was up to the task and deflected the ball away for a corner kick.
Sporting KC broke through in the 34th minute with the Saad-to-Kamara connection paying dividends. Center back Aurelien Collin intercepted an errant chest pass and found Saad in Crew territory. Saad turned and found Kamara at the top of the 18-yard box. Kamara took one touch and fired a left-footed strike past Gruenebaum to put the home side ahead at halftime.
The second half featured a flurry of goals including three in the first eight minutes.
Columbus Crew forward Jairo Arrieta opened the second-half scoring in the 48th minute. The Costa Rican international dribbled 60 yards before slotting the ball past Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen to level the match.
The tie did not last long, however, as Bieler added his team-leading eighth goal of the year two minutes later. The play began on the right flank when Kamara played the ball back to Chance Myers. The veteran defender’s cross deflected off the head of Crew defender Tyson Wahl and landed at the top of the penalty box. Bieler wasted no time, hammering the ball into the far corner to give Sporting KC a 2-1 lead.
Sporting KC’s lead lasted only three minutes as Dominic Oduro pounced on a back pass and dribbled around Nielsen to pull Columbus even for the second time in five minutes.
The back-and-forth affair turned in Sporting KC’s favor in the 80th minute. Homegrown defender Kevin Ellis, who entered the match in the 63rd minute for his MLS debut, sent in a long ball from the left sideline. Wahl won the bouncing ball but headed the ball directly to Bieler. The Argentine striker headed the ball to an open Kamara who beat Gruenebaum to the near post for the game-winning goal.
Sporting KC nearly found a fourth goal but Gruenebaum’s double-save in the 84th minute kept the visitors in the match. His first stop came on a point-blank attempt from Graham Zusi 12 yards from goal. The ball caromed to Saad who laced a shot from the top of the box, but Gruenebaum recovered to throw his body in the way and preserve the one-goal deficit.