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Ike OparaIke Opara
Sporting KC moved one step closer to its third consecutive playoff berth with a 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew on Saturday night at Crew Stadium. Sporting KC now sits two points back of the New York Red Bulls in the race for the Supporters' Shield.
Ike Opara's 17th-minute goal was enough as Sporting KC improved its league-best road record to 7-5-3. Sporting KC also remains one of two teams in MLS to have a positive road goal differential (+2).
The Sporting KC central defender began the play when he headed a Graham Zusi corner kick across the penalty box. C.J. Sapong kept the play alive by tapping the ball back out to Zusi. The All-Star winger curled a ball to the back post where Opara directed his header past Matt Lampson.
Despite controlling 65 percent of the possession, the Crew forced goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen to make only one save. The Danish goalkeeper calmly collected Federico Higuain's 30-yard free kick in the 77th minute to preserve his 11th shutout of 2013. Nielsen is now one back of the Philadelphia Union's Zac MacMath for most shutouts in the league.
The Crew had a good opportunity to level the match in the 81st minute on a set piece. Higuain curled a corner kick into the box and Ryan Finley beat his mark to the ball. Finley directed his header on target but Seth Sinovic alertly headed the ball over the net.
Lampson made four saves for the Crew including a reaction save on Sinovic in the 12th minute. The Crew goalkeeper also came up big to stop Dom Dwyer on a breakaway in the 83rd minute.
Opara nearly added a second for the visitors when he headed a Zusi corner kick past Lampson in the 69th minute. The goal was disallowed, however, as the assistant whistled Opara for a foul.
Sporting KC has a quick turnaround as they prepare for a mid-week match against Houston. The Dynamo currently sit four points behind Sporting KC in the Eastern Conference. Wednesday's match kicks off at 7:30 p.m. on KSMO-TV from BBVA Compass Stadium.
- Story from Sporting KC