The Columbus Crew have no intention of losing their grip on a third-successive Supporters Shield.
A 1-0 victory against the Kansas City Wizards at CommunityAmerica Ballpark on Sunday cemented the Crew’s place as the top team in the Eastern Conference, and extended the visitors’ unbeaten streak against the Wizards to eight matches.
The Crew are now an unblemished 6-0-2 with 20 points this season, while the Wizards fell to 2-4-2 on eight points and are winless in their last seven matches. It was their first home defeat of the season.
Emilio Renteria scored the game-winner for the surging Crew, who earned their third win in eight days and second straight on a brief road swing against conference foes. The unmarked Venezuelan forward pounced on a Guillermo Barros Schelotto corner kick in the 64th minute and blasted a header past helpless Wizards goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen
The goal was the second in as many matches for Renteria, who tallied the final goal of the Crew’s decisive 3-1 win over the New York Red Bulls on Thursday night to open the road swing.
Both sides were active in the first 10 minutes with Kansas City’s Davy Arnaud testing Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer and the Crew called for three successive offsides. But Columbus beat the trap in the 10th minute, and Eddie Gaven found himself alone against Nielsen, but couldn’t slip the ball past the Dane’s outstretched legs.
The notoriously small field at CAB made it difficult for both sides to play the ball on the ground for extended periods, and 13 fouls were committed in the first 45 minutes compared to only three shots on goals.
Kansas City created their best chance just before first-half extra time. Midfielder Graham Zusi found space down the left flank and beat his marker before sending a low ball across the top the penalty area to Kei Kamara, who laid it off to an onrushing Arnaud. Although struck sweetly, the Wizard captain’s blast skimmed the outside of the post and out for a goal kick.
Trailing at home and winless in its last six games, Kansas City pushed forward in search of an equalizer in the second half, and Kamara in particular was thwarted in the box multiple times by last-second headers by Columbus defender Andy Iro.
Kamara and late sub JoshWolff couldn’t convert on the few chances they got as time wound down, and the Crew walked away with a familiar result, padding their lead in the Eastern Conference with next week’s matchup against the Los Angeles Galaxy now on the docket.
The Wizards, meanwhile, face a two-game road trip starting next week at Real Salt Lake in desperate need of a victory to regroup.
CLB -- Emilio Renteria 2 (Guillermo Barros Schelotto 2) 64
KC -- Ryan Smith (caution; Reckless Tackle) 35
CLB -- Emmanuel Ekpo (caution; Reckless Foul) 44
CLB -- Gino Padula (caution; Tactical Foul) 56
CLB -- William Hesmer (caution; Delaying a Restart) 89
KC -- Craig Rocastle (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 90
Columbus Crew -- William Hesmer, Jed Zayner, Eric Brunner, Andy Iro, Danny O'Rourke (Gino Padula 49), Eddie Gaven, Brian Carroll (Duncan Oughton 67), Adam Moffat, Emmanuel Ekpo (Emilio Renteria 59), Steven Lenhart, Guillermo Barros Schelotto.
Kansas City Wizards -- Jimmy Nielsen, Michael Harrington (Birahim Diop 87), Matt Besler, Jimmy Conrad, Jonathan Leathers (Craig Rocastle 80), Davy Arnaud, Jack Jewsbury, Graham Zusi (Josh Wolff 67), Ryan Smith, Kei Kamara, Teal Bunbury.
Referee: Alejandro Mariscal
Referee's Assistants: George Gansner; Thomas Supple
4th Official: Terry Vaughn