Takeaway Points: Sporting Kansas City
The Crew left Kansas City with three hard-earned road points following Saturday night's come-from-behind 2-1 victory at Livestrong Sporting Park. Here are three talking points from the win against Sporting KC:
1. ARRIETA OPENS MLS SCORING ACCOUNT WITH BRACE
Entering Saturday's match, the Crew was 1-6-1 this season when conceding the first goal. The men in Black & Gold could have easily put their heads down following Kei Kamara's 8th minute header past Andy Gruenebaum, but instead kept pressing the Sporting Kansas City defense and were rewarded in the 17th minute when Josh Williams was given a cushion in the final third to slip a through ball to Jairo Arrieta. Arrieta beat KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen with his left foot for the early equalizer to score his first goal in Major League Soccer.
"Chad (Marshall) played a great ball over, and I saw (SKC forward Bobby) Convey and I thought about challenging him for it," Williams reflected on his assist after the win. "I kind of knew he kind of misjudged (the ball) a little bit. I saw the ball floating over his head. I just wanted to get a good touch forward, and it kind of opened up. I just laid it in there for Jairo and he took a good touch and it was a great finish by him."
"I was able to unmark myself and I called over for the ball and scored," Arrieta added. "It was huge to score the game-tying goal. It gave a charge to the team to look for that second goal."
That second goal came less than 20 minutes later when Arrieta was on the receiving end of a Graham Zusi turnover to blast a shot from 30 yards out, beating Nielsen to put the Crew up 2-1.
"It better be (goal of the week)," Williams complimented his teammate's strike. "It was a golazo for sure."
2. SECURING THE LEAD
In the second half, Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum faced an onslaught from the SKC attack. Gruenebaum helped secure the victory for the Black & Gold with three stellar saves from 19 Kansas City shots. The first save came off a Graham Zusi laser from outside the box that Gruenebaum deflected into the crossbar. Teal Bunbury missed an open chance for the equalizer, sending the rebound wide left.
"I saw the volley late and I was just able to get my hand to it and tip it off the crossbar," Gruenebaum said of the save. "Then, I looked up and saw Bunbury and was like 'Well, that's it.' and then he missed it. You've got to have a little luck on your side sometimes and that was the case there."
Minutes later, Bunbury got through the Crew defense to get Gruenebaum one-on-one for two attempts for the equalizer, both of which Gruenbaum got a hand to in order to secure the Columbus lead.
In addition to the normal 45 minutes, the Black & Gold had to endure eight minutes of stoppage time to end the match that saw the Crew defend a plethora of Kansas City chances and Cole Grossman sent off on two yellow cards in the span of a minute.
"It seemed like the second half went on forever. We looked up and there's 45 (minutes) on the board," Josh Williams said. "After that it was like we played a whole second half. Everyone kept asking 'How much time? How much time?' (The official) said 'Under a minute.' like three different times. I was just like 'When is this going to end?'"
"It just felt like a 200 minute second half. It never ended. Every time I'd look up at the clock, it was like only ten seconds went off," Captain Chad Marshall added. "(SKC) was all over us the whole second half. It was a grind. They have athletic dudes, so it was a grind and a battle. Luckily, we came out with three points."
3. RIDING MOMENTUM
With the victory, the Crew continues to move up the MLS Eastern Conference table while still being tied for the least amount of games played this season so far. In back-to-back weeks, the Black & Gold has taken down two of the top teams in the conference and will look to do so again next week against D.C. United.
"To make the playoffs, you're going to have to beat good teams" Andy Gruenebaum said after the victory. "You're going to have to do it on the road as well. I think that's something we've done this year a little bit. We just have to continue the momentum. Next week is no different, we're playing a top-tier team in the East. We just have to have that same mentality. We have to keep after it."
Despite the recent run of success, Josh Williams says there is still room for improvement.
"Right now, the team's feeling good," the young defender explained. "We've just got to put two halves together. We've got to have a good first half and a good second half."