Zack Steffen recorded his sixth consecutive shutout, and the Columbus Crew overcame playing a man down for the entire second half while earning a scoreless tie with host Sporting Kansas City on Sunday at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan.
Columbus (7-3-4) played the second half with just 10 players after midfielder Federico Higuain received a red card late in first-half stoppage time. However, Sporting Kansas City (7-2-4) couldn’t solve Steffen, who established a franchise goalkeeper record for most minutes without allowing a goal (495) while notching his MLS-leading seventh shutout of the season.
Steffen made three saves as the Crew stretched their unbeaten streak to seven matches (4-0-3). Goalkeeper Tim Melia had a penalty-kick stop among his three saves for Sporting K.C., who are unbeaten in their past four matches (2-0-2).
The temperature was 95 degrees at kickoff, so the hot conditions only made things more of a challenge for Columbus after Higuain was docked for making a dangerous sliding attempt on SKC midfielder Roger Espinoza near the end of the first half.
SKC forward Khiry Shelton came close to breaking the deadlock in the 51st minute. Steffen saved Shelton’s right-footed shot, and Shelton hustled to his left to collect the rebound and he hammered a left-footed shot that hit the outside of the left post.
SKC forward Daniel Salloi drilled a right-footed shot in the 63rd minute, but Steffen deflected it away with his right forearm.
Crew forward Gyasi Zardes had an opportunity in the 70th minute, but his header off a corner kick was saved by Melia.
Just one minute later, SKC had a great chance as midfielder Yohan Croizet collected a pass in the box, but his close-range left-footed shot was wide to the left.
Sporting K.C. took 15 shots, Columbus had 12.
After the game’s first 10 minutes, Steffen had set a new franchise record for consecutive minutes without a goal, surpassing the mark of 414 minutes set by Will Hesmer in 2011.
Columbus had the best first-half scoring chance when Zardes lined up for a penalty kick in the 43rd minute. Zardes kicked the ball to the right of the goal, and Melia anticipated the direction correctly and was able to make a diving save.
Melia also stymied Zardes in the 24th minute when he got his right hand on Zardes’ point-blank header.
—Field Level Media