Sporting beats Columbus Crew 2-1, continues road streak

07/16/2014 8:43 PM

07/16/2014 10:20 PM

The Sporting Kansas City road winning streak stands in historic territory.

By the slimmest of margins.

Benny Feilhaber rifled a shot that nicked the crossbar before crossing the goal line in the third minute of stoppage time, giving Sporting Kansas City a 2-1 victory against the Columbus Crew.

The late-game drama Wednesday provided Sporting KC with its fourth straight road victory for the first time in franchise history. And it returns the defending MLS champions back to the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

"It's an extremely well-deserved win," manager Peter Vermes said. "... The team has an incredible perseverance and a fantastic determination to go play for wins no matter where we play."

This one came in a particularly unusual manner.

The two teams traded second-half ejections — Sporting KC defender Aurelien Collin was sent off in the 55th minute before Columbus' Wil Trapp was ejected in the 89th.

Sporting KC, 9-5-5, responded to Trapp's ejection by pushing its numbers forward, resulting in a well-time and a well-placed bullet from Feilhaber in the 93rd minute.

"We upped the tempo right away," Vermes said. "Just an excellent finish."

Feilhaber finished it off. C.J. Sapong got it started.

A nagging neck injury removed Sapong from the early-season rotation. A coach's decision kept him on the sideline over the ensuing weeks.

He made his return to the starting lineup Wednesday for the first time since March 15. And he found the scoring column for the first time this season.

In true Sapong fashion, he won an aerial challenge to head home a corner kick from midfielder Benny Feilhaber for a 1-0 lead in the 43rd minute.

"He can be extremely dominant in this league in the air, and he proved that today with the way he got up and put that one away," Vermes said.

The first tally of Sapong's season put Sporting KC in control until it fell down a man. Collin was shown a red card in the 55th minute for an aerial challenge against 6-foot-7 forward Adam Bedell.

Vermes voiced his displeasure with the call after the match — saying a dive was rewarded — and said the team will likely appeal the card. If it's not overturned, Collin will serve a one-game suspension.

The man advantage sent a charge into Columbus, and the Crew subsequently found the equalizer in the 70th minute. Sporting KC defender Igor Juliao was credited with an own goal after deflecting a crossing pass into the net.

That was the only ball to make it past Sporting KC goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum, who made his return to Columbus on Wednesday. He played the first eight seasons of his career with the Crew before joining his hometown club in the offseason.

On a night in which he was selected to his third consecutive All-Star Game, Graham Zusi did not travel with the team. Vermes said Zusi was resting and will be available Saturday when the club plays host to the L.A. Galaxy at 5 p.m. at Sporting Park.

His absence allowed Mikey Lopez to make the first MLS start of his career Wednesday, ensuring Sporting KC of its 19th different starting lineup in 19 league matches this season. The 21-year-old shared the midfield with Feilhaber and Lawrence Olum. Lopez was replaced by Jacob Peterson after Collin was ejected in the second half.

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