KANSAS CITY, Kan. – This time, Sporting Kansas City made the lead stand up.
Only after a couple of hiccups, that is.
Sporting gave up a pair of one-goal advantages early in the second half on Saturday night, but Kei Kamara's 80th-minute tally – his second goal of the night – gave them a 3-2 win over the Columbus Crew and a share of second place in the Eastern Conference.
Kansas City (7-5-5, 26pts) snapped a four-match winless streak, while Columbus (5-7-5, 20pts) have lost three of their last four.
Claudio Bieler assisted on Kamara's game-winner and also found the net for Sporting, who conceded two goals – bracketed around Bieler's score – in the first eight minutes of the second half. Jairo Arrieta had Columbus' first equalizer, just three minutes after the break, and Dominic Oduro closed out the flurry five minutes later after a gaffe from Sporting left back Seth Sinovic.
Soony Saad, making just his second start of the year with C.J. Sapong on a red-card suspension, had his second assist of the year for Sporting. He was accurate on his crosses all night and spectacular on the ball that led to Kamara's opening goal.
After a giveaway in Sporting's end, center back Aurelien Collin sent the ball forward to Saad along the right touchline. Saad lofted a spot-perfect 40-yard pass to Kamara, waiting at the front left of Columbus' penalty area, and Kamara took one touch to settle before firing a left-footed rocket past Andy Gruenebaum for a 1-0 lead.
That's where it still stood at the half – and then things got crazy.
Arrieta equalized for the Crew in the 48th minute, making a 65-yard-long run down the pitch before splitting the defense at the edge of the area and beating goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen down the middle.
That deadlock lasted only until the 50th minute. Sporting's Chance Myers sent in a long cross from the right side, the ball deflecting off defender Tyson Wahl and falling to Bieler for a cool finish that put the hosts up 2-1.
But three minutes after that, Sinovic – returning from a one-match absence due to a hamstring tweak – left a back pass in no man's land between Oduro and Nielsen. The speedy midfielder won the race, got past the keeper and calmly scored into the open net.
But in the 80th minute, with Columbus' Bernardo Anor down with a cramp in Sporting's penalty area, Kansas City tore back up the pitch and got the game-winner.
Kevin Ellis, who made his MLS debut when he came on for Sinovic in the 63rd minute, sent a long ball into the area. It deflected to Bieler, whose header found Kamara unmarked at short range.
Sporting host Vancouver on Wednesday, while Columbus have a Fourth of July away date at the Los Angeles Galaxy.