Sporting KC vs. New England Revolution | MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinal Preview

SPORTING KANSAS CITY v NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS - SECOND LEG
Wed., Nov. 6, Sporting Park (8 p.m. CT; KSMO; CSN-NE)

 

Sporting Kansas City will be looking to reverse some recent history when they try and overturn a one-goal deficit against the New England Revolution in the second leg of their Eastern Conference Semifinal Series on Wednesday evening at Sporting Park. In each of the last two seasons, SKC has seen its season end on its home ground, unable to reverse a first-leg deficit last year at the semifinal stage. The Revolution claimed a 2-1 win Saturday in the first leg at Gillette Stadium, as they look to win a series in the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2007 -- in a place where they have never won.

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REFEREE: Mark Geiger; SAR (bench): Sean Hurd; JAR (opposite): Joe Fletcher; 4th: Sorin Stoica
SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS (suspended next yellow card): KC: Seth Sinovic, Teal Bunbury, Aurelien Collin ... NE: Dimitry Imbongo, Lee Nguyen, A.J. Soares, Chad Barrett

LEAGUE HEAD-TO-HEAD: NE 13 wins (1 SO), 54 GF... KC 23 wins (1 SO), 74 GF ... Ties 11
2013 HEAD-TO-HEAD: KC 1 win, 3 GF ... NE 0 wins, 0 GF ... 1 tie
AT SPORTING PARK:
 8/10: KC 3, NE 0 (Kamara 27, 50; Feilhaber 92+)
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: NE 1 win, 2 GF ... KC 0 wins, 1 GF ... 0 ties

SPORTING KANSAS CITY

READ: Sporting believe they will get chances and "put them away" in second leg

  • For the second consecutive year, Sporting return home needing to overturn a first-leg deficit in the conference semifinals. Last season, Sporting won the return match 1-0 -- but lost on aggregate after losing 2-0 at the Houston Dynamo.
  • "It's good. You don't always necessarily know if you're always going to win when you go away from home, but to keep the scoreline the way we did is great," said SKC manager Peter Vermes. "It wasn't frustrating at all. I thought we were really good playing away from home."
  • Teams that have had the second leg at home have advanced 22 times over 42 two-leg series all-time in MLS. Teams winning the first leg have won 19 series; teams losing the first leg have won 11 series.
  • "We remember last year how Houston was dropping, dropping and defending. We expect the same thing from [New England]," defender Aurelien Collin said. "It's always easier to score one goal than two goals, so it was very important to score that goal. Hopefully the league would be like Europe -- when you score away, it would double. We're not there yet, so we just need to score a goal to tie it then score another one to win the semifinal."
  • Teal Bunbury was given the start in attack, his first appearance in the first XI since Aug. 23. Bunbury had come on as a substitute in six of the final eight games of the season.
  • "We're organized. I think (Lawrence Olum) and (Oriol Rosell) do a really good job of deciding who goes forward and who's holding," said defender Seth Sinovic. "I think weíre balanced in the back, and going forward I thought Teal (Bunbury) made some great runs tonight, same with the outside guys C.J. (Sapong) and Jacob (Peterson). We had some chances."
  • Collin scored his second career goal in the MLS Cup Playoffs, his first coming in 2011 vs. Colorado in the Western Conference Semifinals. Three of the last four postseason goals scored by Sporting, dating back to 2011, have come from defenders.
  • "(That) goal is very huge for us. It keeps us in the game. 2-0 is a steep hill, but 1-0 is at least something that, as a team we are able to get over," said midfielder Lawrence Olum. Added goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen: "All I had in my head was that we needed at least one goal, and we got that goal. I still have a big belief that we can still turn this around."

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION

READ: New England confident after grabbing first leg victory over Sporting KC

  • The Andy Dorman goal was the first goal New England had scored against Sporting KC in any match since 2011. Sporting came into the series riding a streak of five consecutive shutouts in league matches; the goal ended a streak of 556 scoreless minutes.
  • "We knew that we were in a different place, they're in a different place -- we're two different teams. ... I really don't think we were thinking about them being able to stop us, I think we were just thinking about how we needed to play," said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps.
  • Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis has still not been on the losing end of a decision this season. Reis became the first goalkeeper in MLS history to go without a defeat in 10 or more starts when he posted a 7-0-4 record during the regular season.
  • "Reisy's been huge all season," defender Darrius Barnes said. "He made a huge save in the first half and then in the second half on Dom Dwyer. He's wise. He's a wise goalkeeper. I think he plays mind games with the attackers a little bit. When you have the experience of a keeper like that and he has the talent, it makes it easy for a defender."
  • The Revolution won a game in the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2009, since a 2-1 win against Chicago in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. "A step forward, but at the same time it's a very difficult road ahead," Heaps said. "If we're talking three or four goals, then maybe this is a big step forward. But it's a battle -- we have a one-goal lead. It's halftime and we have a big, big battle going to Kansas City."
  • The lone Sporting goal came following a corner kick. The Revolution allowed six goals from set pieces over the regular season -- just three teams conceded fewer from deadballs (VAN 3, TOR 4, DAL 5).
  • "We knew they would be strong (on set pieces). They've scored a lot of their goals from set pieces. They scored last week against Philly on a set piece -- a long throw -- and they got some chances (Saturday) so we have to be smart in what we're doing."
  • Kelyn Rowe scored his first goal in his first appearance in the MLS Cup Playoffs -- and in the process became the youngest player in Revolution history to score a postseason goal (21 years, 335 days). "We like to get down and play a little bit. The first half was hard. I think that both teams were kind of just dumping it in and hoping for second balls," Rowe said. "You saw the game open up as the second half went through and I think we found some good chances."