SKC face tough road test vs. Revs as USOC final looms

Graham Zusi

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Sporting Kansas City would love to snap their three-match league winless string and snag a bit of momentum for next week’s US Open Cup final.

That said, they’re not overloading Saturday’s match at New England (7:30 pm ET, MLS Live) with the weight of too much expectation.

“We’re just looking for a result,” midfielder Graham Zusi told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “We’re not saying it’s a ‘win or die’ kind of thing. That game really has no bearing on Open Cup, and Open Cup has no bearing on that game. We’re looking to go get a result and play good soccer.”

Sporting, who host Seattle on Aug. 8 in their first Cup final since the then-Wizards won it in 2004, definitely could use the boost they would gain from extending New England’s winless streak to five. Since going unbeaten across all competitions through the first two weeks of July, SKC are 0-2-1 in league play.

But even if Sporting can’t gain a result on Saturday, goalkeeper and captain Jimmy Nielsen said, they won’t have any trouble getting up for the Sounders next week in what’s sure to be a sold-out Livestrong Sporting Park.

“No matter how it goes on Saturday, Wednesday will still be a huge game,” he said. “I don’t think you have a lot in common between those two. Of course, it would be better for us if we come out with a win Saturday, with the confidence, but no matter what it will be a completely different game.”

With 37 points, Sporting (11-7-4) are one behind East leaders New York and tied with Houston (who hold second place in the standings on goal differential). Those two clubs meet Friday in Houston, so a draw there and a Sporting win over the Revs would catapult SKC back into first place.

There’s plenty of pressure from behind, too, with only six points separating the Red Bulls and fifth-place Chicago.

“If we had a 12-point lead on everybody, then yeah, maybe we could rest this game and really focus on the final,” defender Matt Besler said. “But that’s not the case in MLS. It’s never the case.”

Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.