[MLS PLAYOFFS: New England-Sporting KC]This isn’t a revelation, per se, but the Revs are on a roll.
New England was the only MLS team to finish the regular season by winning three straight games and carried that momentum through its first playoff encounter by beating Sporting Kansas City, 2-1, at Gillette Stadium Saturday in the first leg of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Andy Dormanand Kelyn Rowescored in the second half for a 2-0 lead and the Revs recovered from a quick SKC reply from Aurelien Collin to hold onto the 2-1 advantage. SKC hosts the second leg Wednesday at Sporting Park. New England advances with a win or a tie, SKC must win by at least two goals to prevail outright.
Revs coach Jay Heaps opted for Dorman to start in midfield rather than rookie Scott Caldwell and stocked the remaining slots in his front six with attacking players. After a sluggish first half of few chances, the Revs pushed the game hard to start the second period and broke open the goalless game in the 54th minute when Dorman reacted quickest to a saved Diego Fagundez shot that caromed off a couple of players and tapped the ball home.
Encouraged by the reward of their efforts, the Revs kept buzzing and struck again in the 67th minute. A sweeping move forward provided space for Lee Nguyen to play a ball for Rowe, whose inside run gave him room to smack a superb shot with the outside of his right foot along the turf just inside the far post.
SKC didn’t wilt, however. A free kick just outside the Revs’ penalty area yielded a shot by Chance Myers that caromed off teammate Lawrence Olum, and squirted to the back post, where Collin tucked it in. Head coach Peter Vermes immediately brought on Soony Saad to bolster his attack, and a few minutes later brought on Dom Dwyer, who forced a save from Revs keeper Matt Reisin third minute of stoppage time SKC battled in vain for the equalizer.
The Revs reached halftime 0-0 thanks to some stout defending. Nguyen cleared a Myers shot off the goal line, and Reis stoned Teal Bunburyfrom point-blank range.
Eight of the Revs starters made their playoff debuts in this game. Only Reis, Dorman andDarius Barnescame into the match with playoff experience.
Nov. 2 in Foxboro, Mass.
New England 2 Sporting KC 1.Goals: Dorman 55, Rowe (Agudelo, Nguyen) 67; Collin (Sapong, Myers) 69.
New England --Reis, Farrell, Soares, Goncalves, Barnes, Dorman, Agudelo, Nguyen, Rowe (Barrett 85), Fagundez, Imbongo (Caldwell 71).
Sporting KC -- Nielsen, Myers, Collin, Besler, Sinovic, Zusi, Rosell, Olum, Peterson (Saad 70), Bunbury (Dwyer 77), Sapong.
Yellow Cards:New England -- Imbongo 69, Nguyen 84, Soares 90, Barrett 90+2; Sporting KC -- Sinovic 53, Bunbury 71, Collin 76.