MLS Preview from The Sports Network (ET)
04/25/2014 4:40 PM
04/25/2014 4:55 PM
Kansas City (3-1-2) at New England (2-3-2), 7:30 p.m.
Foxborough, MA (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of playoff foes will clash on Saturday when the New England Revolution host Sporting Kansas City at Gillette Stadium.
The sides met in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season. New England earned a 2-1 first-leg victory at home, but it was overturned by Sporting in the second leg as SKC came away with a 4-3 aggregate victory and eventually went on to win MLS Cup.
The defending champions enter Saturday's match in fine form, riding a four- match unbeaten streak in league play. Last time out, Sporting put forth its best performance of the season with a 4-0 thrashing of the Montreal Impact at Sporting Park.
The home side got on the board in the 31st minute via an own goal by Montreal's Callum Mallace before doubling the advantage with 19 minutes to play through a goal from Aurelien Collin.
Dominic Dwyer then scored twice in the final 16 minutes to send Sporting away with all three points.
Manager Peter Vermes praised his team's dominating effort.
"I thought from the opening whistle we were very good, even with the way we went off the kick off and got down in their end. I just think from the start to finish we were very good, Vermes said. " In the second half we were tremendous. They were just sitting back trying to defend and catch us on the counter. And like I said, in the second half I think we did a tremendous job of that. On top of that, I think that the ball possession during the course of the game I think really wore them out and our relentlessness around the box worked tremendously well."
New England, meanwhile, is coming off a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park last weekend.
Chicago opened the scoring in the 16th minute when Harry Shipp threaded a through ball between defenders from midfield to Quincy Amarikwa, who beat Bobby Shuttleworth low.
But New England answered back 16 minutes later as Lee Nguyen converted from the spot to send the sides into the break on level terms.
Chicago had a glorious opportunity to sneak away with the victory at the death when Revs defender Kevin Alston was sent off for handling the ball in the penalty area.
Juan Luis Anangono stepped up to take the ensuing penalty kick but was denied by Shuttleworth as the clubs were forced to settle for a point apiece.
"Right away, we started to move the ball pretty quickly and it looked like we were going to really get something from that and get them tired," Revs head coach Jay Heaps said. "Then I think we got a little bit relaxed in the fact that we were up a man, so we were trying to probe and find it rather than playing the way we know how to play, and really get the ball moving and play it quicker. We were taking that first pass and looking for the wrong ball at the wrong time.
"But in the end, the way it was going, we went from having a goal on (Chris) Tierney's chance, to Bobby making a huge save on a chance for them to win the game. So back and forth, and in the end, we'll take the draw."
Saturday also marks the first opportunity for Revs forward Teal Bunbury to face his old team. Bunbury was traded by Sporting to New England in the offseason.
"It's going to be very exciting playing against guys that I played with for four years," Bunbury said. "I'll be able to chat with them before the game, but once that first whistle blows, it's all about the team. For us, we're going to go in there with a game plan and that's all I'm really focused on."
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