Crew-Sporting Kansas City Preview


The Columbus Crew followed the best start in team history with a winless April. Starting May on the right foot could prove difficult against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.

The Crew try to snap a four-game winless drought and avoid a fourth consecutive loss to Sporting KC, which has been very tough to beat or even score upon recently when at home.

Columbus (3-1-3) won its first three games by a 7-2 margin before falling off the pace last month. The Crew fell 2-0 to Toronto FC on April 5 before posting three consecutive 1-all draws, including last Saturday at home against New York.

Jairo Arrieta opened the scoring with a penalty kick in the 39th minute, but the Crew yielded the tying goal in the 66th.

"Obviously, heads were down in the locker room that we couldn't close it out, we couldn't get the three points. But I think there were a lot of positives," first-year coach Gregg Berhalter told the league's official website. "They were disappointed that they didn't win the game, and I like that. I like that we were disappointed because it shows that we have high expectations of ourselves."

The Crew now hit the road, where they have outscored teams 6-2 in going 2-0-1. Columbus, which visits Houston on Wednesday, last went unbeaten through its first four road games in 2009.

"We want to just keep developing our play. We want to win the games, of course. We have expectations of ourselves to win the game, but we want to develop our style and keep working on that," Berhalter said. "We're going to go on the road and give teams tough games. We're going to try to control the games and be aggressive, and that's what we do."

The Crew, though, have had a rough go in this series of late. Kansas City (3-2-2) has gone 5-1-1 against them dating to 2011 after taking all three matchups last year by a combined 7-2 score, including consecutive shutouts.

Sporting KC has recorded three straight shutouts at home, where it has outscored teams 6-1 in going 2-0-2. The club is 6-0-4 in its past 10 home games across all competitions, allowing just four goals, since losing to Philadelphia on Sept. 27.

Kansas City is returning home looking to regroup after its five-game unbeaten streak was snapped with a heartbreaking 2-0 loss to New England last Saturday. The clubs entered stoppage time in a scoreless tie before the Revolution scored twice in a three-minute span.

"I think it's always a concern. You never want to give up late goals," center back Matt Besler told the club's official website. "We really approach each week the same way, and giving up late goals is one of the things that we focus on. For whatever reason, the ball hasn't bounced our way a couple of times. We haven't made good enough decisions the last five minutes.

"I think the mentality just needs to be a bit better."

Sporting went down to 10 players in the 74th minute after defender Aurelien Collin was red carded for his challenge on Diego Fagundez. Collin will join the injured Ike Opara on the sidelines as he serves a one-game suspension.