Now entering his seventh year as the radio play-by-play announcer for Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew, Neil Sika has also spent the past nine years providing coverage of numerous NCAA Division I athletics.
Additionally, he has worked several national and regional events on television (Big Ten Network, STO, TWC) and radio (Monarch Sports).
Buckeyes, Blue Jackets and more
Though the personnel went unchanged, the Crew side that took the field to start the second half of Saturday's match at Sporting Kansas City looked dramatically different than the team that went into halftime trailing 1-0 following Kei Kamara's sublime finish in the 34th minute.
"We said at halftime, 'just go and win the second half, win the next 45 minutes,'" Crew Head Coach Robert Warzycha said after the match.
"Actually, the second 45 minutes were much better than the first half."
With Jairo Arrieta moving forward into the attack from the wing, the Black & Gold came out firing as the Costa Rican single handedly led a 65-yard effort to split defenders and beat Kansas City 'keeper Jimmy Nielsen to level the match in the 48th minute.
Sporting went ahead once again in the 50th minute on Claudio Bieler's volley past Andy Gruenebaum, but the resilient Crew answered just three minutes later when Dominic Oduro intercepted Seth Sinovic's pass to finish past Nielsen for the equalizer.
"Both of our goals kind of came from nothing. We weren’t really able to keep possession tonight," veteran defender Chad Marshall said after the match. "Jairo [Arrieta] made a good run to beat their center back and he slotted it well."
But the night belonged to Kamara, as the former Crew striker tallied in the 80th minute to lead Sporting to victory despite a Konrad Warzycha chance to even things up in the 94th minute that missed inches wide.
Now the Crew must regroup before flying to Los Angeles for an Independence Day tilt with the Galaxy.
"We just need to tighten up defensively and take advantage of our chances," Goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum said. "I’d like to score one without giving one up for a change."
Added Robert Warzycha: "We have to go to LA and try to play the same way, play with intensity and try to win the game."