KANSAS CITY, Kan. – The New England Revolution spent the week preparing for the onslaught to come. Sporting Kansas City needed a goal and wanted a few more. And the home side planned to apply that pressure from the opening whistle.
The approach did not catch the Revolution off guard by any stretch, but the prior knowledge did not help them cope with the situation. Sporting asserted control over the match from the outset and eventually emerged with a 3-1 victory after extratime to claim this Eastern Conference Semifinal series 4-3 on aggregate.
“The effort was there,” Revolution defender Darrius Barnes told MLSsoccer.com after the game. “The effort was definitely there. It was just a difficult game. It was pretty much what we expected when we came in here. They were going to come out in waves, they were going to come out flying. And that's exactly what they did.”
Revolution coach Jay Heaps lamented his side's start to the game and noted the first half played a large part in the eventual demise. Even the response after the break – prompted by the halftime arrival of Scott Caldwell in central midfield and the equalizer by Dimitry Imbongo after 70 minutes – failed to turn the tide completely.
“It felt good,” Heaps said. “I thought we started to move the ball better. I thought Scotty made a good improvement. Tactically, we made a little shift. We found a goal. It was just a bing-bang play and then they go back and tie it on the aggregate side.”
By that point in the game and into extra time, Sporting relied on its overwhelming pressure to push and push until the critical goal. Claudio Bieler provided it seven minutes from the end to dash the Revolution's hopes of extending the match into penalties and securing a date against Houston in the Eastern Conference Championship.
“We tried,” Heaps said. “I thought we had a couple of chances here or there, but we were hoping to get to penalties. We were hanging on and we thought we had the advantage there.”