Drilling down on: Sporting KC 2, at Columbus 0

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Man of the Match: Sporting Kansas City Kei Kamara gave his team a lot of work up and down the right side, vital on a night when the visitors had reason to be dragging. The big winger helped created a late turnover, then sped forward to supply the pass that turned into Sporting’s insurance goal.

Packaged for take-away:

  • Two road wins (including Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup semifinal victory) makes this a huge week for Kansas City. Counting Wednesday’s triumph, Peter Vermes’ team is 3-0-1 in July.
  • On the sideline for Sporting Kansas City to start this one: Teal Bunbury, Graham Zusi and C.J. Sapong, which is some serious offensive bench strength. Vermes sought to get some of those guys a little rest.
  • Columbus struggled mightily early to move out from the back against the visitors’ high-pressure, which paid off in Jacob Peterson’s 7th minute opener.
  • Peterson collected an ankle injury not long afterward. He tried to play through it but wasn’t able to make the best of his high work rate. Whether due to that or a slight easing up of pressure after the goal, Columbus slowly began getting out of the back with the ball and grabbing more of the game.
  • A great free kick service from the Crew’s Bernardo Anor turned into a glistening 25th-minute scoring chance for Emilio Renteria, who failed to get his uncontested shot from the corner of the six-yard box on target.
  • Later, Anor put a free kick directly on goal, one Jimmy Nielsen stepped over toward and grabbed comfortably. That represented Columbus’ best pair of chances before the break.
  • With Zusi sitting out (resting after the team’s Open Cup win on Wednesday), and with very little creative influence from the Crew midfield, this one lacked some fizz, especially in the first half.
  • Chris Birchall and Tony Tchani played centrally in the Crew midfield. Both are defensive players by instinct, usually more comfortable taking the safe route with passes. Eddie Gaven, deployed left, was the closest thing to a playmaker available for the home team.
  • New Costa Rican striker Jairo Arrieta got his first minutes for the Crew, lasting 62 in his role alongside Renteria. Starved for service and lacking familiarity with his fellow Crew frontrunner, it was a pretty quiet debut.
  • They’ll need some time to sort all that out in Columbus. Renteria seemed more effective once Dilly Duka replaced Arrieta, whose runs and positioning was too often redundant. Duka went out wide a little more often, which opened space for Renteria.
  • Paulo Nagamura fouled Renteria from behind in the 68th minute and got the yellow card he deserved. But Renteria took issue, sprang up and tried to head butt the SKC midfielder. Props to Nagamura, who just stood there when so many players would probably flop and possibly get the violator ejected. As it is, the disciplinary committee will surely review this one. Renteria did pick up a booking for his unwise action.
  • Roger Espinoza was strong once again in the SKC midfield, although he did tire in the 2nd half.