Road woes continue in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – The New England Revolution has been solid at home in recent months, amassing a 4-1-1 regular-season record with four shutouts at Gillette Stadium since mid-May. But unless the Revs can translate their home form into success on the road, reaching the playoffs for a ninth straight season will be a difficult task.

A pair of goals from Birahim Diop and additional strikes from Kei Kamara and Jack Jewsbury – all sandwiched around Kenny Mansally’s third goal of the season – condemned the Revolution to a 4-1 loss to the Kansas City Wizards on Saturday night at CommunityAmerica Ballpark, leaving the Revs with nothing to show from their two-game road trip which also included a stop in Chicago. The loss dropped the Revolution’s road record to 1-8-1 in league play.

New England will return home for its next two regular-season games against the Philadelphia Union (Aug. 28) and Seattle Sounders FC (Sept. 4), but it’s perhaps the following three games – all on the road against Western Conference teams – which will determine if the Revs can make a late postseason charge.

“To be one of the best teams in this league, you’ve got to win on the road and you’ve got to get points on the road,” said captain Shalrie Joseph. “If you can’t do that, you’re not going to make the playoffs and you’re not going to be one of those teams they’re talking about. It’s just not good enough.”

One of the Revolution’s biggest issues away from home this season has been conceding early goals, a trend which continued on Saturday night in Kansas City. English winger Ryan Smith almost gave the hosts the lead in just the third minute, but goalkeeper Matt Reis came up with a huge save to keep the game scoreless. The early save only managed to delay the scoring, however, as Diop recorded his first career goals in the 16th and 27th minutes to put the Revs in an early hole.

Although Mansally briefly cut the deficit to 2-1 going into the halftime break, it was always going to be difficult for the Revs to erase the Wizards’ lead.

“You can’t chase the game away from home,” said head coach Steve Nicol. “If you go behind and you’re chasing the game, what happens is that you leave holes. You can’t fault the commitment from the players; they were fighting until the end. But when you make mistakes, you get punished. That’s what happened.”

Prior to their two-game road trip, the Revs had limited their opponents to just two goals during an eight-game unbeaten run in all competitions, including six shutouts. In two games in Chicago and Kansas City, they conceded a total of six.

“Defensively, we were solid the past couple of games and tonight we came in here and had a stinker,” said Joseph. “We just didn’t perform well. We were awful and that’s the bottom line.”

With one week to regroup before a visit from the expansion Union next Saturday night, the Revs will have to recover from their recent string of three games in eight days and prepare for another Eastern Conference showdown.

“We need to get rested and get after it again,” said Nicol. “The only thing I can tell you is that we will do that. I’m confident of that – it’ll never be in question. We just need to do things better moving forward when we have it and when we don’t have it.”