MLS Match Preview: New England Revolution vs. Sporting Kansas City

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION vs SPORTING KANSAS CITY
GILLETTE STADIUM, Foxborough, Mass.
March 23, 2013 (WEEK 4, MLS Game #28)
4 p.m. ET (CSN-NE; KSMO) 

The New England Revolution make their Gillette Stadium debut for 2013 when they play host to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday afternoon. The Revolution are looking to return to the win column, coming off a 1-0 loss at Philadelphia Union last weekend. Sporting are also looking to get back to their winning ways after opening the season with a victory, their last result a scoreless draw with the Chicago Fire in their home opener. 

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REFEREE: Edvin Jurisevic. SAR (bench): Claudio Badea; JAR (opposite): Jason Cullum; 4th: Mark Geiger MLS Career: 54 games; FC/gm: 22.5; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 4; pens: 7 

DISABLED LIST: KC: Teal Bunbury; Jacob Peterson
SUSPENDED: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: NE: Jerry Bengtson (Honduras; vs. Mexico) … KC: Matt Besler, Graham Zusi (USA; vs. Costa Rica) 

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (45 meetings): Revolution 13 wins (1 shootout), 54 goals … Sporting 22 wins (1 shootout), 71 goals … Ties 10
AT NEW ENGLAND (4 meetings): Revolution 7 wins (1 shootout), 31 goals … Sporting 11 wins (0 shootout), 39 goals … Ties 5
RETURN MATCH: 8/10: Sporting Kansas City vs. New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m. CT 
LAST YEAR (MLS):

3/17: KC 3, NE 0 (Zusi 28; Kamara 39; Sapong 47) 
7/21: KC 0, NE 0 8/4: NE 0, KC 1 (Bunbury 20)

  • Sporting are unbeaten in their last four meetings with the Revolution, including all three meetings a year ago, when they won twice. KC won 1-0 on Aug. 4 in the lone meeting at Gillette Stadium. 
  • Sporting have a 322-minute shutout streak alive vs. the Revolution, their last goal conceded in the series coming July 30, 2011.
  • New England haven’t won in Kansas City since 2008. KC has four wins in their last six home matches with New England, with two draws.
  • Coaches record: Jay Heaps vs. KC: P3 W0 L2 D1 … Peter Vermes vs. NE: P8 W4 L2 D2  

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
The New England Revolution suffered their first loss of the new season, dropping a 1-0 decision to Philadelphia Union on Saturday evening at PPL Park.

LAST MATCH

  • The game's lone goal came after 75 minutes. The initial header by Jack McInerney from a Sebastien Le Toux corner kick was saved by Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth, but McInerney pounced on the rebound and put into the back of the net. 
  • Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath was credited with two saves in his first clean sheet of the season.
  • Revolution head coach Jay Heaps made two changes to the team that defeated the Chicago Fire 1-0 at Toyota Park. Scott Caldwell and Kelyn Rowe both came into the midfield, in place of Kalifa Cisse and Donnie Smith.
  • NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (4-2-3-1): Bobby Shuttleworth - Andrew Farrell, Jose Goncalves, A.J. Soares, Kevin Alston (Chris Tierney 79) - Clyde Simms (Andy Dorman 46), Scott Caldwell - Kelyn Rowe, Juan Toja (Chad Barrett 79), Lee Nguyen - Jerry Bengtson.

TEAM NEWS 

  • With the loss in Chicago, it meant that the Revolution still have not opened a season with back-to-back wins in their 18-year history.
  • “Unfortunately we put a lot of hard work into going on the road and being solid and getting to halftime 0-0 and making sure we come out and have an opportunity to win game or at least come out of here with what we thought was a fair result,” said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps. “That is where we lost it, inside. It was a set piece goal and we don’t want to give those up.”
  • After becoming the third player in league history to play in 16 different seasons, goalkeeper Matt Reis was unable to post for the Philadelphia match, suffering from a knee injury. Bobby Shuttleworth made his season debut between the posts.
  • Midfielder Kalifa Cissé was also kept out of the lineup because of a groin injury. “It was precautionary,” Heaps said. “Some of the knocks they took in the Chicago game just didn't heal quickly enough. It's more precautionary. Both of them could have played if we had to [play them], but we didn't want to lose them for a longer period of time.”
  • Andy Dorman came on as a halftime substitute, his first appearance in MLS and for the Revolution since the 2007 season.
  • “I think Dorman and Scottie [Caldwell] both making their debuts did a nice job,” said Heaps. “Dorman’s got experience and it shows. Scottie obviously is a methodical player and thinks about the game and that shows. He took very good spots and played very good balls.”
  • Dorman replaced midfielder Clyde Simms. “It was a little bit of an issue with his muscle,” Heaps said. “It was a little bit precautionary because it was such a heavy field. We wanted to make sure that it wasn't a long-term issue.”
  • The Revolution will also be forced into another change with striker Jerry Bengtson away on international duty with Honduras.
  • “I am very happy every time I am called up. It’s very nice," Bengtson said. "I’m thrilled to be there with my teammates. I think it's a big thrill to every player who is called up, it’s very nice.” 

SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City weren’t able to make their home debut a victorious one, settling for a scoreless draw with the Chicago Fire on Saturday afternoon at Sporting Park.

LAST MATCH

  • Sporting put 20 attempts toward goal, only three of which were on frame, and all of those straight at Fire 'keeper Sean Johnson.
  • The Fire nearly stole all three points in second-half stoppage time, when Dan Paladini broke in alone on goal. But Sporting 'keeper Jimmy Nielsen made the save, his only one of the match.
  • Sporting manager Peter Vermes made two changes to the team that dropped a 2-1 decision to Toronto FC at Rogers Centre. Mechack Jerome made his first start at right back, in place of Chance Myers, and C.J. Sapong started in a wide spot in place of Bobby Convey.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-2-3): Jimmy Nielsen - Mechack Jerome, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Oriol Rosell - Benny Feilhaber (Soony Saad 77), Paulo Nagamura - C.J. Sapong, Claudio Bieler, Graham Zusi.

TEAM NEWS 

  • While Sporting were able to keep a clean sheet for the first time this season, they were also kept off the scoreboard for the first time this year. Sporting had 15 defensive shutouts last year, two shy of the all-time MLS single-season record. 
  • “When you have 75 percent possession throughout the course of the game and we were going with speed at times when we had to, there’s nothing you can do when a team drops nine guys within a 24-yard space,” said SKC manager Peter Vermes. “It’s always going to be difficult to hit the back of the net but I thought that we at times were very dangerous around the goal and we didn’t give anything away until probably the 88th minute and that’s only because we were still going and they were trying to take one off the counter.” 
  • C.J. Sapong made his first start of the season after recording an assist against Toronto FC in a second substitute appearance. Sapong started on the right side of the Sporting attack, with Graham Zusi shifting to the left flank. 
  • “He’s a good matchup to Gonzalo Segares. We weren’t sure who they were going to put on the right, whether it was going to be Thompson or Videira,” said Vermes. “So to start out we thought it was a little bit better of a situation and Zusi does a very good job coming in from the left to the right. When he’s on his right foot he can get some good shots off.” 
  • Said Sapong: “At this point, I feel comfortable at any of the top three positions on the field. I kind of wish Zusi and I switched sides a little more today to put their backs on their toes, but I feel I can work well at any of those attacking spots.” • Vermes made just one substitution in the match, bringing off Benny Feilhaber after 77 minutes for Soony Saad. 
  • “This was his best performance in regards to his transitional moments in the game. Especially from offense to defense, I thought he was very good,” said Vermes. “He had a lot of pressure on the ball and he made a lot of good decisions tackling-wise when he won it back for us in some really important places and I think he’s still one of the guys getting a feel for how we go, but you can’t say enough about him when he has the ball. He’s very smooth, very calm. He gives us another guy that can keep it.” 
  • Rookie Mechack Jerome made his MLS debut, coming in at right back for Chance Myers, who was hampered by a knee injury. 
  • “I thought he had a really, really solid performance. Defensively he was a rock. He actually made, I would say if he had 10 balls, which he didn’t he had a lot more, I would say he probably made eight great decisions,” said Vermes. “So he had a really solid performance and I thought defensively he was very, very good.”