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September 25, 2016
Ola Kamara dominates as Columbus beats Revs, 2-0

Steve Neumann got his first start of the year as the New England Revolution faced Columbus Crew SC Sunday at MAPFRE Stadium.
Steve Neumann got his first start of the year as the New England Revolution faced Columbus Crew SC Sunday at MAPFRE Stadium.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
COLUMBUS, Ohio--All the pregame attention was on Kei Kamara on the striker’s return to Columbus for the first time since the May 12 trade that brought the 2015 co-scoring leader to New England, but it was his replacement, another Kamara, who made the difference in Columbus Crew SC's 2-0 win over the Revolution at MAPFRE Stadium Sunday night.

Ola Kamara scored from open play shortly before intermission and added a late penalty kick to lead the Crew (7-11-11, 32 points) to their second straight victory, keeping alive the slim chance of last year’s MLS Cup runner-up returning to the playoffs. The MLS newcomer has 15 goals in 22 games.

Brad Knighton made seven saves for the New England (9-13-9, 36 points) but the Revolution attack stalled as Kamara and the Crew ended New England’s winning streak at three and dealt a blow to the Revolution’s post-season chances. With three games remaining, the Revs fell below the playoff line, two points off the pace of Montreal and one point behind DC, each of whom has played one fewer game.

With Jose Goncalves, Je-Vaughn Watson, Gershon Koffie, and last week’s MLS player-of-the-week Kelyn Rowe unavailable due to injury and illness, New England Head Coach Jay Heaps was forced to improvise a lineup, introducing Darrius Barnes into central defense for his first appearance since August 6 and awarding Steve Neumann his first start of the year on the right edge of the midfield in the Revolution 4-4-2.

Knighton, making his seventh straight league start in goal, was called upon early, leaping to tip a long-range screamer from Mohammed Saeid over the bar, and stepping up again in the 23rd minute when Harrison Afful tried to tuck a shot inside the right post from a tight angle.

The Revs threatened in the 27th minute when Kei Kamara slipped a pass to strike partner Juan Agudelo, but Columbus ‘keeper Steve Clark was able to snuff the close range chance. Two minutes later Lee Nguyen eluded two Crew SC defenders in the box but couldn’t sneak his shot past Clark.

The action accelerated at the half-hour mark as a flying Knighton got a strong hand on a left-footed Justin Meram strike from distance to tip it off the bar and then covered up an on-target header from Tony Tchani off the rebound.

In the 38th minute Neumann tested Clark from distance after high pressure from the Revs and strong work on both side of the ball from Diego Fagundez, but it was Columbus who grabbed the lead four minutes later off a counterattack.

Kamara launched the attack with strong hold-up play and finished it after collecting a pass from Tchani, cutting inside Barnes from the right and dragging his shot inside the right post past the dive of Knighton, whose tally of first-half saves ended at six.

The Revs struggled to get their attack on track in the second half and nearly went down a second goal midway through when the ever-active Afful pinged the post after cutting in smartly from the right.

In the 79th minute Crew SC nearly struck again as Ethan Finlay forced a save from Knighton and Dilly Duka’s rebound effort was rejected off the line by Andrew Farrell.

With home side gaining the upper hand, Columbus finally extended their lead in the 82nd minute, when referee Chris Penso awarded the Crew a controversial penalty after London Woodberry shouldered Kamara off the ball as a cross came into the box. Kamara stepped up and buried the penalty into the left-side netting as Knighton dove right.

Tempers flared in the 89th minute after a collision between Scott Caldwell and Ola Kamara, with players squaring off but no harm done. Penso concluded matters with a caution for Caldwell and the game ended peacefully after emotions cooled.

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