KANSAS CITY, Kan. – The feel-good story of the night was Kevin Alston's return to New England's starting lineup for the first time since his leukemia diagnosis in April. The rest of the evening belonged to Sporting Kansas City.
Kei Kamara scored on a pair of headers – beating Alston both times – before being knocked out of the match on a late red-card foul, and Sporting regained the Eastern Conference lead with a 3-0 victory over the shorthanded Revolution on Saturday night.
Benny Feilhaber also scored on a stoppage-time free kick for Sporting, who finished the match 10-v-9.
Kamara now has seven goals since rejoining Sporting in May from his loan to Premiership side Norwich City and has found the net three times in Kansas City's last two league games. Soony Saad had his first career multi-assist game for Sporting (11-7-6), who snapped a two-game league losing streak and moved one point ahead of New York in the East after the Red Bulls fell 2-0 to Columbus earlier in the evening.
The Revolution (8-9-6), who have lost four of their last six, had to play a man down after the 64th minute, when forward Dimitry Imbongo was given his second yellow for elbowing Uri Rosell in the throat. They went down to nine in the 86th minute, when Andy Dorman was given a straight red card for a foul that left Kamara hobbling off the field under assistance, but Sporting were out of subs at that point.
Sporting started five players from their XI in Wednesday night's 2-0 CONCACAF Champions League away victory over Nicaraguan side Real Esteli, but any worries of travel fatigue were soon laid to rest.
Still, neither team could get much going early on. Kansas City started less-than-crisp in the final third and New England sent long ball after long ball in vain, and the game's first shot didn't come until Sporting's Claudio Bieler fired high in the 20th minute. Sporting kept pressing, though, and seven minutes later it paid off.
Seth Sinovic sent a short pass down the left touchline to Saad, who stretched past New England's Lee Nguyen and lofted a cross into the area. Kamara outjumped Alston a few yards to the right of the penalty spot, got his head to the ball and looped it over 'keeper Bobby Shuttleworth.
Imbongo had a chance to equalize on a breakaway in the 40th minute, but Jimmy Nielsen made a sliding save to deny his hard shot and Imbongo was called for a foul while attempting to play the high deflection.
Nielsen also swatted away Chad Barrett's blast in the 80th minute, finishing with four saves and his ninth shutout. That moved him back into a share of the league lead with Shuttlesworth and Portland's Donovan Ricketts.
Alston was lifted in the 57th minute for Diego Fagundez, but not before Sporting went up 2-0 in the 50th. Saad sent in a diagonal corner from the left wing, and Kamara outran Alston to the edge of the 6-yard box to nod it home.
Feilhaber put an exclamation point on the win with a bending free kick from just outside the box, after a yellow-card foul on Stephen McCarthy in the 90th minute.
New England host Chicago on Aug. 17, with Sporting returning to action a day later at San Jose.
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Kei Kamara||Battled hard with Kevin Alston, but had the defender's number when the crosses came into the box|
|2||Soony Saad||Zusi who? Saad pulled the strings and floated all over the field to set up Kamara's goals|
|3||Jimmy Nielsen||The scoreline flattered KC a bit, as Nielsen had three crucial saves to keep the Revs off the board on the night|