Preview: Sporting open home slate vs. revamped Revs

SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
LIVESTRONG SPORTING PARK, Kansas City, Kan.

March 17, 2012 (WEEK 2, MLS Game #11)
7:30 p.m. CT (KSMO; CSN-NE)

Sporting Kansas City make their 2012 home debut on Saturday evening when they meet the New England Revolution at Livestrong Sporting Park in an Eastern Conference matchup. Sporting came away from RFK Stadium with a dramatic 1-0 victory against D.C. United to start off the 2012 season. The Revolution are on the second stop of their season-opening road swing, kicking off the year with a 1-0 loss at the San Jose Earthquakes last weekend.

REFEREE: Silviu Petrescu. SAR (bench): Philippe Briere; JAR (opposite): Corey Parker; 4th: David Gantar MLS Career: 40 games; FC/gm: 27.9; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 7; pens: 6

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INJURY REPORT: SPORTING KANSAS CITY -- OUT: GK Eric Kronberg (lower back injury); QUESTIONABLE: MF Paulo Nagamura (L calf strain) … NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION -- OUT: DF Darrius Barnes (L calf strain); FW Zak Boggs (R ankle sprain); MF Sainey Nyassi (R hamstring strain); DOUBTFUL: DF John Lozano (R hip flexor strain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Saer Sene (L knee swelling); DF A.J. Soares (R knee sprain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (42 meetings): Sporting 20 wins (1 shootout), 67 goal… Revolution 13 wins (1 shootout), 54 goals… Ties 9
AT KC (20 meetings): Sporting 10 wins (1 shootout), 29 goals… Revolution 6 wins (1 shootout), 23 goals… Ties 4
RETURN MATCHES: 7/21: Sporting Kansas City vs. New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m. CT; 8/4: New England Revolution vs. Sporting Kansas City, 7:30 p.m. ET

LAST YEAR (MLS):
4/23: NE 3, KC 2 (Perovic 12; Joseph 72; Lekic 83 - Kamara 14, 69)
7/30: KC 1, NE 1 (Bunbury 89 - Lekic 38)

  • The teams played to a 1-1 draw in their first meeting ever at Livestrong Sporting Park last year, after the Revolution claimed a 3-2 victory in Foxborough.
  • New England’s win last year ended a seven-game winless streak against Kansas City. The Revs’ last previous victory in the series had come April 9, 2008, a 3-1 triumph at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
  • The teams also faced each other in a U.S. Open Cup play-in match, Sporting rolling to a 5-0 on May 25 at the Blue Valley Sporting Complex.
  • Coaches record: Peter Vermes vs. NE: P5 W2 L2 D1 Ö Jay Heaps vs. KC: first game

SPORTING KANSAS CITY

Sporting Kansas City went on the road to open their 2012 season and started things off on the right foot, getting a dramatic match-winner for a 1-0 win against D.C. United at RFK Stadium.

LAST MATCH

  • United ‘keeper Bill Hamid had been the story of the first 90 minutes, stopping Sporting at every turn. But in the third minute of stoppage time, second-half substitute C.J. Sapong lost his marker on a corner kick, found space and placed a clinical header inside the near post for the match-winner.
  • Sporting head coach Peter Vermes had just one newcomer in his lineup to open the campaign. Bobby Convey slotted into the left side of midfield.

SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-3-1): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Roger Espinoza, Julio Cesar - Kei Kamara, Graham Zusi, Bobby Convey (Peterson Joseph 85) - Teal Bunbury (C.J. Sapong 75).

TEAM NEWS

  • Sporting Kansas City is now 11-4-2 all-time in season openers, the best mark among all MLS teams. KC has lost only one season opener in the last 11 seasons.
  • “We set five objectives coming into the game,” manager Peter Vermes said. “The first was to get a shutout. The second was to get a goal from the run of play. The third was to get a goal off a set piece. The fourth was to pick up points from this game. Fifth was to get our first road win of the season. We got four out of five. I’d say that’s not too shabby.”
  • A year ago, Sporting scored seven goals from corner kicks, tied for third-most in MLS with FC Dallas, behind nine for Real Salt Lake and Houston.
  • “We were knocking the ball around very nicely the whole game, but the final pass, the final shot wasn’t there,” said Sapong. “The last 10 minutes, we stepped it up and they couldn’t handle it. You could hear them out there, hoping for a tie. We definitely deserved the win.”
  • Teal Bunbury, who was given the start and played 75 minutes, was called in by the U.S. U-23 national team for the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
  • “Teal wore them down for sure,” Vermes said. “Then C.J. was able to come in and give us a shot of energy. You have to give him a lot of credit on that set piece. Everybody was pulling and grabbing in there, and he was able to put his head on it.”
  • For the second straight year, Sapong scored in the club’s season-opening match. He struck in the second minute of his MLS debut in 2011 at Chivas USA. “That guy [Sapong], you know, Rookie of the Year last year. That’s the perfect way to start the new season, in front of friends and family,” Vermes said. “I just saw the ball in the back of the net, and what’s the best time to get a goal? I’m sure it was electric back in Kansas City.”
  • With Paulo Nagamura sidelined, Roger Espinoza and Julio Cesar filled the deep-lying central midfield axis. Bobby Convey was given the start as expected in midfield.
  • “I donít think there’s a guy I could speak poorly about. I think all the guys were very good in their roles and responsibilities within the game plan,” Vermes said. “Roger [Espinoza] was a monster for sure. His recovery to win the ball back, his anticipation, all that stuff was very good.”
  • On Tuesday, Sporting defeated nearby Rockhurst College 2-0 in a friendly played at Livestrong Sporting Park. Rookie Dom Dwyer and Luke Sassano scored for SKC.
  • Here s the Sporting side: Jon Kempin; Korede Aiyegbusi (Kevin Ellis 69), Lawrence Olum, Cyprian Hedrick, Michael Harrington; Konrad Warzycha, Luke Sassano, Soony Saad; Jacob Peterson (Kyle Miller 62), C.J. Sapong (Michael Thomas 36), Dom Dwyer

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION

The New England Revolution again opened the season with a California trip, falling 1-0 to the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium in the MLS coaching debut of Jay Heaps.

LAST MATCH

  • The game's lone goal came after 15 minutes. San Jose winger Shea Salinas scooped up possession from an errant pass and quickly slipped a through ball to Chris Wondolowski. The U.S. international took one touch and fired from just outside the penalty area past New England goalkeeper Matt Reis.
  • Heaps ran out an all-new strike pair in Fernando Cardenas and Blake Brettschneider, while rookie Kelyn Rowe started on the right midfield.

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (4-4-2): Matt Reis - Kevin Alston, Stephen McCarthy, John Lozano, A.J. Soares (Tyler Polak 60) - Kelyn Rowe, Clyde Simms (Ryan Guy 79), Shalrie Joseph, Benny Feilhaber - Fernando Cardenas (Lee Nguyen 69), Blake Brettschneider.

TEAM NEWS

  • The Revolution have now won just one of their last 15 MLS matches, dropping Jay Heaps’ debut as a head coach in the league.
  • “When we drew it up, we didn't want it to be direct tonight,” Heaps said. “That was their game plan, to come out and play [it directly]. When we went long, which is fine, I don't mind when we go long so long as we get the second ball and the third ball and we couldn't find the ball. After the ball went long, we couldn't settle in and find our midfield.”
  • With Darrius Barnes sidelined after suffering a calf injury in training the day before the season opener, Stephen McCarthy was deputized into a central defense role alongside John Lozano.
  • “I'm learning,” McCarthy said. “I think I've started to pick it up pretty quickly. I'm figuring it out. I'm definitely getting help from A.J., and John too, but it's hard with the language [barrier]. They're both helping me a lot. It's been good.”
  • McCarthy shook off illness to slot into the first team and his time in the back four might not yet be over. A.J. Soares limped off in the second half in San Jose with a right knee sprain, and Lozano is doubtful with a right hip flexor strain.
  • The Revs fielded a completely new strike pair in Fernando Cardenas and Blake Brettschneider, while rookie Kelyn Rowe made his professional debut on the right side of midfield.
  • “We were a tad off with our passing and that kind of ruined things for us,” Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis said. “The times when they were dangerous, we gave away the ball. We just have to be a little bit better with the ball.”
  • The Revolution signed midfielder Jeremiah White — eight years after the club selected him out of Wake Forest in the third round of the 2004 SuperDraft. White has played with Poland’s GKS Belchatow, and alongside Benny Feilhaber with Denmark’s AGF Aarhus; the eight years between draft-day selection and signing with the club who took him is believed to be a record.
  • Shalrie Joseph became the Revs all-time career appearances leader with 244 during his 10-year MLS career; he entered the game tied with current head coach and former teammate Jay Heaps.
  • The Revs saw their winless streak in games played in Mountain or Pacific time zones extended to 17 games (0-12-5), dating back to August 2009 ñ a 1-0 win at Seattle. The loss also extended the team’s winless run in West Coast games to 11 games (0-9-2).
  • “I think the second half was a little bit better than the first,” Revolution midfielder Benny Feilhaber said. “We created a couple more chances and maybe tried to play a little bit more. That tends to happen when you're down. I don't know how much you can take that into account, but, at the same time, it's not going to change overnight. There are things we need to work on and there are still bits we're learning to improve upon from last year. I think we'll do better next game. That's where we're at right now."