Columbus was forced to play a third straight game without Federico Higuain after the Argentine midfielder was injured in training late in the week. Bernardo Anor retained his place in the center of the midfield, but was hamstrung most of the night by Kansas City's defensive pressure and a lack of cohesion from the Crew.
Several players started the game on the back foot, caught napping while Kansas City pounced. Wil Trapp was only the most obvious victim, committing an ill-advised foul in the penalty area in the seventh minute. Claudio Bieler stepped up to the spot and cooly sent Matt Lampson the wrong way.
The Crew's prospects got even worse 20 minutes later when Chad Marshall was forced to leave the game with a leg injury. He was replaced, both in defense and as captain, by Danny O'Rourke.
Kansas City scored their second goal of the night shortly before half time, emphatically putting an end to a spell in which the Crew had begun to find a slight toehold in the game. Soony Saad was the goalscorer, blasting a shot into the upper corner of the net from Matt Lampson's right. It was a crucial giveaway in midfield, however, that started the play in motion. Chad Barson's heavy controlling touch - and a late reaction from Wil Trapp to the danger - gifted Saad and Claudio Bieler with a chance to attack the right side with numbers.
Trapp would calm down later, finishing as the team's leader in completed passes. Ethan Finlay was not so lucky, and was replaced at halftime by Tony Tchani in an attempt to provide more cohesion in the center of the field.
C.J. Sapong scored the final goal in the 55th minute. Oriol Rosell provided service to the penalty spot, where Sapong fought off Tyson Wahl and nodded home. Lampson made the ill-advised decision to come off his line too late to challenge for the cross, and was unable to react fast enough to the shot.
Jairo Arrieta was introduced shortly afterwards, relieving Justin Meram, but the Costa Rican forward was unable to combine effectively with Finley and only rarely interacted with Dominic Oduro. The team did not manage to put a shot on goal until the closing minutes, when Arrieta's effort from the left flank forced a save from Jimmy Nielsen. Nielsen bobbled the ball, but recovered before Bernardo Anor was able to pounce.
What it means
Columbus remains in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, five points behind New England and Houston in the final playoff position. Columbus, however, has played two more games than both the Revolution and Dynamo - as well as the Chicago Fire, who are also in the fight for a single berth in the postseason.
Had the Crew managed a win, it would have thrown the conference into an extremely tight race - with three teams tied for the lead and the aforementioned quartet all within two points at the bottom.
With this stretch of three games in a week behind them, Brian Bliss will have until next weekend to continue making his adjustments to team style and lineup. The team's next game will be on the road in Montreal, where Columbus has yet to register a victory. Subsequent games will be home to Chicago and on the road in Dallas to close the month of September.
Timeline of events
6' Corner kick, Kansas City (right side - short, foul by Trapp in the area)
7' 0-1 Claudio Bieler (penalty kick)
17' Corner kick, Columbus (right side - short, no shot taken)
22' Corner kick, Columbus (left side - bounces through area)
27' Danny O'Rourke replaces Chad Marshall
38' Corner kick, Columbus (left side - too long)
41' 0-2 Soony Saad (Claudio Bieler)
46+' Caution, Paulo Nagamura (reckless foul on Dominic Oduro)
45' Tony Tchani replaces Ethan Finlay
52' Caution, Tony Tchani (unsure)
55' 0-3 C.J. Sapong (Oriol Rosell)
59' Jairo Arrieta replaces Justin Meram
62' Caution, Danny O'Rourke (professional foul on Claudio Bieler)
62' Caution, Claudio Bieler (late tackle on Bernardo Anor)
64' Jacob Peterson replaces Soony Saad
68' Corner kick, Kansas City (right side - too long)
76' Teal Bunbury replaces Claudio Bieler
90' Jimmy Medranda replaces Benny Feilhaber
90' Corner kick, Kansas City (left side - short, no shot taken)
Matt Lampson, Chad Barson, Eric Gehrig, Chad Marshall (Danny O'Rourke 27), Tyson Wahl, Wil Trapp, Ethan Finlay (Tony Tchani 45), Bernardo Anor, Justin Meram (Jairo Arrieta 59), Dominic Oduro, Ryan Finley
Daniel Withrow, Agustin Viana, Konrad Warzycha, Ben Speas
Sporting Kansas City
Jimmy Nielsen, Josh Gardner, Aurelien Collin, Ike Opara, Seth Sinovic, Paulo Nagamura, Oriol Rosell, Benny Feilhaber (Jimmy Medranda 89), CJ Sapong, Claudio Bieler (Teal Bunbury 76), Soony Saad (Jacob Peterson 64)
Eric Kronberg, Mikey Lopez, Lawrence Olum, Kevin Ellis