Opara's early header wins it for Sporting Kansas City

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Ike Opara continues to use his head as his third goal of the year was enough for a 1-0 Sporting KC victory over the Columbus Crew.

At this point, who doesn't like Ike?

Ike Opara's header in the 17th minute would propel Sporting Kansas City to a stressful 1-0 victory that essentially doomed the Crew's playoff chances while keeping Sporting's Supporters Shield chances afloat.

Sporting KC came into the game needing a win, a New England loss or tie and a Union loss to clinch a playoff berth. Peter Vermes put out another interesting lineup, starting Ike Opara over Aurelien Collin and Peterson Joseph over Benny Feilhaber.

After an uneventful start to the match, Ike Opara would justify his start over Collin in the 17th minute. After a corner kick was kicked around the box, it was kicked back out to Graham Zusi on the flank. He curled it in and found Ike Opara far post who headed the ball into the net for the game's first score. It was Opara's third goal of the year and Sporting KC had a crucial 1-0 lead on the road. Graham Zusi also picked up his team-leading eighth assist of the year.

Sporting controlled possession for the next ten minutes or so but the momentum started to swing back to the home side. They had several near chances and were a threat for the rest of the half. Fortunately for Sporting, they were able to keep the Crew out of the net as they headed into the locker room with a 1-0 advantage.

Opara nearly earned a second goal in the 69th minute. Opara headed the ball in the net again far post but was called for a foul in the box and the goal was disallowed. He went over the back of the Crew defender and was whistled for the foul.

Columbus nearly equalized in the 80th minute. A header off a corner was darted towards the goal out of the reach of Jimmy Nielsen, but a heroic save from Seth Sinovic kept the score in favor of Sporting KC.

After fifteen stressful more minutes, Sporting KC would emerge the victors of the match with a final score of 1-0 after a strong defensive showing.

This was the first time that the Crew had been shutout in a month, which was a 3-0 loss to Sporting KC. Their playoff hopes were essentially ended and they were guaranteed a losing season for the first time since 2007.

Sporting KC got some help from the New England Revolution as they drew with the New York Red Bulls in a thriller of a match. This pulls Sporting KC to within two points of the Red Bulls with a game in hand. If Sporting KC wins on Wednesday against the Houston Dynamo, they will move to the top of the Eastern Conference.

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