New England Revolution 2, Sporting Kansas City 1 | MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinal Recap
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England captured a 2-1 victory over Sporting Kansas City to leave the outcome of this Eastern Conference Semifinals in doubt heading into the second leg on Wednesday.
Andy Dorman and Kelyn Rowe struck for the Revs in the second half after the home side weathered the first half storm, but Aurelien Collin responded for Sporting to hand the visitors a precious goal to take home to Sporting Park in midweek.
Sporting gradually imposed its will on the first half after a cautious start. The visitors prevented the Revs from establishing any semblance of rhythm in midfield and then squeezed forward smartly to create opportunities on the break.
Graham Zusi served as the primary protagonist to prompt the intermittent Sporting chances in the final third. His diagonal ball down the right played Jacob Peterson behind Darrius Barnes to create the first genuine opening. Peterson latched onto the pass and slotted back into the middle for Teal Bunbury, but Bunbury turned the ball just wide with his first-time effort.
Sporting received the benefit of the ensuing corner kick and nearly opened the scoring from it. New England cleared the initial service, but Chance Myers headed back toward the vacated net. Lee Nguyen cleared off the line to keep the Revs on level terms.
Playoff Central: Recapping NE-SKC
Bunbury should have handed Sporting the lead after 34 minutes after Zusi's incisive ball over the top played him behind the Revolution line. Bunbury settled well with his first touch, but he shot tamely at Matt Reis with the goal at his mercy.
New England punished Bunbury's wastefulness by perking up at the start of the second half and scoring the opener 10 minutes after the interval. Rowe played a ball over the top for Diego Fagundez to collect on the right. Fagundez played a low ball for Juan Agudelo to divert toward Sporting 'keeper Jimmy Nielsen. The veteran goalkeeper saved the initial shot, but the effort then deflected toward the goal line. Dorman tucked home from two yards to stake the Revs to the lead.
Rowe doubled the advantage in the 67th minute after good combination work from Agudelo and Nguyen. Agudelo inspired the chance with a driving run through midfield. Nguyen collected a feed from Agudelo and then played Rowe through on the right side of the penalty area. Rowe did ever so well to finish with the outside of his foot to hand the Revs a precious second.
Collin reduced the deficit two minutes later after a scramble inside the penalty area. Peterson sparked the scramble with a header back across the face of goal. A couple of Sporting players touched the ball before it squirted to Collin on the back post. He made no mistake from close range to cut the deficit and prompt a grandstand finish.
Second-half substitute Dom Dwyer nearly brought Sporting level at the death, but Reis parried away his near-post effort to give the Revolution a narrow lead to take to Sporting Park on Wednesday.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Kelyn Rowe||The Revs midfielder had the most complete game, creating a number of chances and tallying the game winner.|
|2||Matt Reis||A steady presence on the backline, the veteran Revs 'keeper made a few big stops to have the Revs up heading into the second leg|
|3||Aurelien Collin||Sporting's gritty defender was a pest on the defensive end and put in the lone goal for the road side.|