By DAN KARELL
On a night where Sporting Kansas City looked far from last year’s Eastern Conference regular season champion, it was last season’s top scorer who lifted his team to victory.
Kei Kamara bagged a pair of goals including the game-winner in the second half to lead Sporting KC to a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Crew on Saturday night at Sporting Park. Graham Zusi made his first appearance since returning from national team duty, but it was Kamara who stole the show.
Soony Saad validated his place in the starting XI with a picture-perfect long ball to teammate Kei Kamara in the 34th minute. Kamara’s first touch set himself up inside the box, and the second slammed the ball in for a goal to give Sporting KC the lead.
The floodgates opened at the start of the second half as the usually stout Sporting KC defense conceded twice in five minutes despite scoring one. Crew forward Jairo Arrieta went nearly unchecked for 40 yards on a solo run before finishing past Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen in the 48th minute.
Just two minutes later, Sporting KC forward Claudio Bieler showed off his finishing skills, scoring on an off-balance shot after a poor clearance attempt from the Crew defense on a cross. Three minutes hence in the 53rd minute, the Crew’s Dominic Oduro used his pace to race onto a slow back pass from Sporting KC defender Seth Sinovic, rounding Nielsen and tying the match once more to make it 2-2.
Following three yellow cards and a number of chippy moments between the two clubs, Sporting KC took the lead for good through Kamara in the 80th minute. Bernardo Añor of the Crew went down with an injury in the box but the referee waved play on as Sporting KC countered quickly. Kamara was open at the back post as Bieler looked up, and the South American found the African, who made no mistake finishing on a one-on-one opportunity.
In the 82nd minute, forward Dom Dwyer made his season debut for Sporting KC after being recalled from his loan with Orlando City SC. Crew substitute Konrad Warzycha had a chance to tie the match in the dying moments of stoppage-time but his blast on the volley went wide of goal.
Here are the match highlights: