The Columbus Crew defeated Sporting Kansas City, 1-0, on Saturday, tying the club record for consecutive shutouts. Kansas City had two former Ohio State players in its colors.
Midfielder Konrad Warzycha, son of Crew coach Robert Warzycha, and defender Roger Espinoza, played at OSU. Konrad is rehabbing from a preseason knee surgery.
Konrad said it was a chance for him to see his teammates whom he has not seen in a while as he rehabs in Dublin, Ohio.
“It felt good to be on the sidelines again,” he said. “Obviously, this is not the way I pictured it being.”
Espinoza said he was excited to come back to Columbus.
“Every time I come back here,” he said, “it’s like home again.”
The Crew faced a huge task in stopping the Kansas City offense. Kansas City had scored more than one goal in three of its four games this season.
Columbus came into the game having not surrendered a goal in three previous contests.
Facing rain and winds that consistently blew at about 15 mph, Crew keeper William Hesmer said he knew it would not be easy.
“The wind was tough,” he said. “It was blowing straight into the north goal.”
Columbus came out on the attack first when midfielder Eddie Gaven’s shot on the edge of the 18-yard box sailed high over the crossbar.
Kansas City came back in the fifth minute with a shot by forward Kei Kamara, which deflected off defender Julius James.
Kansas City almost took the lead in the 28th minute when Kamara had a clear header toward the goal after a Kansas City free kick. Hesmer got his hands on it, making sure it did not reach the back of the cage.
After a 0-0 draw going into the locker room at halftime, the second half would bring the game’s lone goal.
In minute 52, Columbus midfielder Dilly Duka flicked a cross by midfielder Kevin Burns to the feet of midfielder Robbie Rogers, who sent a burner past the fingers of keeper Jimmy Nielsen.
“He was in the right place at the right time,” Robert said.
Tom Heinemann, who entered in the 67th minute, brought about a spark that energized the team.
Within a minute, a Heinemann header sent midfielder Robbie Rogers screaming down the left sideline.
After cutting the ball back, Rogers sent it across the middle to a wide-open Gaven, whose right-footer was saved by Nielsen’s leg.
Heinemann did it again in minute 82 when he dribbled down the left side, sent the ball across the middle to Duka, who laid it to midfielder Emmanuel Ekpo, whose shot was blocked.
Following the game, both father and son talked about how their teams fared.
“I told him he got lucky on this one,” Konrad said. “I am sure I won’t hear the end of it for a while now.”