Preview: Sporting eye points vs. Revs to regain top spot

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION vs SPORTING KANSAS CITY
GILLETTE STADIUM, Foxborough, Mass.
August 4, 2012 (WEEK 22, MLS Game #208)
7:30 p.m. ET (CSN-NE; KSMO)

The New England Revolution and Sporting Kansas City meet for the third time this season when the clubs battle in a crucial Eastern Conference contest Saturday evening at Gillette Stadium. The Revolution are looking to put a halt to a four-game winless run as they try and pull themselves back into a playoff spot. Sporting haven’t won in three games as they’ve fallen out of the top spot in the division, now a point back of New York.

REFEREE: Geoff Gamble. SAR (bench): Philippe Briere; JAR (opposite): Daniel Belleau; 4th: Mathieu Bourdeau
MLS Career: 16 games; FC/gm: 21.6; Y/gm: 3.1; R: 2; pens: 9

DOWNLOAD FULL GAME GUIDE HERE (PDF)

INJURY REPORT:

  • NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION – OUT: FW Alec Purdie (L ankle sprain); GK Bobby Shuttleworth (L knee sprain); DF A.J. Soares (R hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Diego Fagundez (L ankle sprain); DF Kevin Alston (L hamstring soreness); PROBABLE: DF Darrius Barnes (L adductor strain)
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY – OUT: DF Cyprian Hedrick (L fibula fracture); GK Jon Kempin (R ankle fracture); FW Jacob Peterson (R shoulder sprain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Aurelien Collin (facial fracture); DF Chance Myers (groin strain); FW C.J. Sapong (R adductor strain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES:

  • NE: Jerry Bengtson (Honduras; Olympic Games)
  • KC: Roger Espinoza (Honduras, Olympic Games)

SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:

  • SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none
  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: NE: Benny Feilhaber, Chris Tierney, Shalrie Joseph ... KC: Julio Cesar, Aurelien Collin, Chance Myers, Jimmy Nielsen, Paulo Nagamura

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (44 meetings): Revolution 13 wins (1 shootout), 54 goals …Sporting 21 wins (1 shootout), 70 goals …Ties 10
AT NEW ENGLAND (22 meetings): Revolution 7 wins (1 shootout), 31 goals … Sporting 10 wins (0 shootout), 38 goals … Ties 5

2012 (MLS)
3/17: KC 3, NE 0 (Zusi 28; Kamara 39; Sapong 47)
7/21: KC 0, NE 0

  • It’s the third meeting of the season between the clubs, the second in the past two weeks. They played to a scoreless draw July 21 in Kansas City; Sporting won 3-0 at home on March 17.
  • 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.
  • Coaches record: Peter Vermes vs. NE: P7 W3 L2 D2 … Jay Heaps vs. KC: P2 W0 L1 D1

LAST MEETING (MLS)

  • Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis was credited with six saves on the evening, his best coming in the second half when he denied a snap header from Jacob Peterson with a sprawling fingertip save.
  • Sporting 'keeper Jimmy Nielsen made three saves on the night, his best coming early on when he parried a powerful header from Ryan Guy on a corner kick.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-3-1): Jimmy Nielsen - Michael Harrington (Lawrence Olum 90), Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Paulo Nagamura, Jacob Peterson - Kei Kamara, Graham Zusi, Bobby Convey (Michael Thomas 70) - C.J. Sapong (Soony Saad 87).
  • NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (4-2-3-1): Matt Reis - Kevin Alston, Stephen McCarthy (Blake Brettschneider 78), A.J. Soares, Darrius Barnes (Fernando Cardenas 58) - Chris Tierney, Shalrie Joseph - Kelyn Rowe (Saer Sene 58), Lee Nguyen, Benny Feilhaber - Ryan Guy.

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
The New England Revolution saw their winless run stretched to four matches, dropping a late 2-1 decision to Philadelphia Union on Sunday evening at PPL Park. The Revolution are in a tie for eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 23 points from 21 games.

LAST MATCH

  • The Revolution opened the scoring in the 12th minute. Saer Sène collected the ball in midfield fired a blast from distance that knuckled past confused Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath.
  • But Union pulled level in the 59th minute when Freddy Adu banged home a penalty kick, after New England’s Kevin Alston was whistled for a foul for taking down Jack McInerney right at the edge of the 18-yard box.
  • McInerney then completed the Union comeback in the 90th minute, waiting at the back post to head home a cross from Sheanon Williams that sailed over New England goalkeeper Matt Reis for the match-winner.
  • Revolution head coach Jay Heaps made two changes to the team that reached a scoreless draw with Sporting Kansas City at Livestrong Sporting Park. Clyde Simms and Saer Sene came back into the team for Shalrie Joseph and Darrius Barnes.
  • NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (4-2-3-1): Matt Reis - Kevin Alston, A.J. Soares (Darrius Barnes 71), Stephen McCarthy, Chris Tierney - Benny Feilhaber, Clyde Simms (Shalrie Joseph 60) - Kelyn Rowe (Dimitry Imbongo 69), Lee Nguyen, Ryan Guy - Saer Sene.

HIGHLIGHTS: PHI 2, NE 1

TEAM NEWS

  • The Revolution have now gone winless in four consecutive games, and have won just once since the June international break.
  • “Unfortunately, they ran numbers through the midfield and were slicing through the midfield a bit too much,” Revolution head coach Jay Heaps said. “That's where the game was really won: they'd go through the middle and then they'd go wide. They were getting some pressure wide.”
  • After scoring a pair of goals in three consecutive games, the Revs have scored just two goals over their last four games.
  • “We had a lot of good stuff tonight, a lot of good possession, a lot of good defending, a lot of good chances and, obviously, a great goal by Saër,” Revolution defender A.J. Soares said. “We have to try to finish our opportunities and keep the ball out. We've shown that we can do it, we just have to try to do it a little bit better next week.”
  • Said Revolution midfielder Kelyn Rowe: “In the final third, we couldn't put things away. It was a touch here, a touch there, just a little bit wide or the final ball wasn't there. They ended up getting two goals in the second half. It's unfortunate.”
  • While the Revolution have struggled to score goals since Jerry Bengtson left to join Honduras for the Olympic Football Tournament, he has continued his goalscoring touch in England, leading the event with three goals scored.
  • “[Bengtson is] exactly what we need right now: a couple of goals,” Heaps said. “We knew going in that [he could play in the Olympics] and we didn't want to limit the player. It was the club's choice at that point because he's the over-age player. I think the player needs it. You hate to limit anyone and he had dreams of being in the Olympics. It's great for him.”
  • The Revolution made a massive move Wednesday, trading Shalrie Joseph to Chivas USA for midfielder Blair Gavin. Joseph, a four-time MLS Best XI selection and eight-time MLS All-Star, is the club’s all-time appearance leader since signing for the 2003 season.
  • “This was a very difficult decision for us to make,” Heaps said. “For as long as I can remember, Shalrie has been the Revolution’s anchor and one of the team’s leaders. Through the years, he helped set the tone every day, gave everything he had for the Revs and was the consummate teammate. As his coach - and his friend – we’ll miss Shalrie on the field and in the locker room every day, but we have to look ahead and make decisions with the best interest of the club in mind.”
  • Gavin is in his third professional season after Chivas USA drafted him 10th overall in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft out of the University of Akron. A defensive midfielder, Gavin has made 43 career appearances, including 31 starts, with three goals and five assists.

SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City saw their winless stretch reach three games, falling 2-1 at home to Columbus Crew on Saturday evening at Livestrong Sporting Park. Sporting have 37 points from 22 matches, in a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

HIGHLIGHTS: SKC 1, CLB 2

  • The home side opened the scoring in the eighth minute on a textbook set piece. Graham Zusi sent in a long free kick, and Kei Kamara leaped and headed it past Andy Gruenebaum from the center of the box.
  • But the Crew equalized in the 17th minute through new arrival Jairo Arrieta after a nice through ball from Josh Williams. Arrieta took the pass in the penalty area, shrugged off Lawrence Olum’s attempted tackle and fired past Jimmy Nielsen from 12 yards. 
  • Then in the 34th minute, Arrieta corralled Zusi’s errant back pass in space in Columbus’ attacking third and sent a blast in from distance to make it 2-1.
  • Sporting head coach Peter Vermes made two changes to the team that played to a scoreless draw with the New England Revolution at Livestrong Sporting Park. Lawrence Olum came into the back four for Aurelien Collin, and Teal Bunbury started up top for C.J. Sapong.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-1-3): Jimmy Nielsen - Michael Harrington, Lawrence Olum (Neven Markovic 84), Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Paulo Nagamura, Jacob Peterson (Korede Aiyegbusi 71) - Graham Zusi - Kei Kamara, Teal Bunbury, Bobby Convey (Julio Cesar 64).

TEAM NEWS

  • While Sporting scored their first goal at home since June 16, snapping a 332-minute home goalless stretch after just eight minutes, they still saw their winless streak at Livestrong Sporting Park extended to four games in league play.
  • “We had a ton of chances, we hit it all, we were just all around it, but at the end we just didn’t put it away. It’s been the last couple games that way for us,” said SKC manager Peter Vermes. “The one thing I thought we did well today, though, was that we managed the fact that another team comes in and just wants to bunker in and just play 11 guys behind the ball. I thought we were good to put pressure on them and get the first goal. We had good movement off the ball so that part of it is very good, but not getting the result is the part that sticks in your craw.”
  • Kei Kamara continued to find his scoring form, netting for a third time in six games. He has eight goals on the season.
  • “I don’t know how many times we’ve talked about us dominating the game and not getting the win,” said Kamara. “Dominating is not good enough. Sometimes it’s better to play dirty and get three points. A lot of people will say, ‘We worked hard, we put up a good fight,’ but that’s not good enough.”
  • Graham Zusi contributed his first assist since June 16, his ninth of the league campaign, now tied for third place in MLS, one off the league lead held by D.C. United’s Dwayne De Rosario and Houston’s Brad Davis.
  • “The chances have been there, but the finishing has been an issue as of late. If we can keep creating the chances, I think the finishing will come,” said Zusi. “We’ve said that a lot recently, but as a player you’ve just got to keep thinking the goals and the wins will come.”
  • Sporting were without center back Aurélien Collin for the first time in a league game this season, after he suffered a facial fracture in the first half of the MLS All-Star Game vs. Chelsea FC.
  • “I did a brain test this morning, so I’m just waiting for the results,” Collin said Tuesday. “If it’s good, I’m going to be back soon.”
  • There is another injury concern with midfielder Jacob Peterson, after he was forced from the field after 71 minutes with a shoulder injury. Peterson was playing a second match in a central midfield position, after three starts in a wide role.
  • “It’s going to take him a little while to see if it’s getting better, like it’s supposed to be, to do a rehab on it,” Vermes said. “That’s what they’re trying to figure out. I don’t know the timeline. That’s more the doctors and the trainers. It’s going to be days.”
  • On Wednesday, Sporting played to a 1-1 draw with Stoke City FC of the English Premier League in a friendly at Livestrong Sporting Park. Michael Tonge converted a penalty kick in the 84th minute to give the Potters a late lead, but Kyle Miller scored in stoppage time to provide a late equalizer.
  • Here’s the SKC team: Eric Kronberg; Korede Aiyegbusi, Neven Markovic, Konrad Warzycha, Kevin Ellis; Peterson Joseph, Michael Thomas, Soony Saad, Kyle Miller; Dom Dwyer, Teal Bunbury