FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Rajko Lekic scored his first MLS goal in the 83rd minute to hand the New England Revolution a dramatic 3-2 win over Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.
Marko Perovic and Shalrie Joseph scored the Revolution’s other goals either side of halftime, while Kei Kamara struck twice for Sporting KC, which finished the game a man down after French defender Aurelien Collin was issued a straight red card in the 75th minute.
U.S. National Team midfielder Benny Feilhaber made his MLS debut after being acquired by the Revs via the Allocation Process earlier this week and assisted on Perovic’s opening goal just 12 minutes into the game. Feilhaber played the full 90 minutes.
The victory snapped a four-game winless streak for the Revolution (2-2-3, 9 pts.), which climbed into a tie for third place in the Eastern Conference. Sporting Kansas City (1-3-1, 4 pts.), meanwhile, is now winless in four games since a season-opening triumph over Chivas USA.
There were three changes to the Revolution lineup which suffered a 1-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo last weekend. Feilhaber jumped straight into the starting eleven, while Joseph returned from suspension to partner him in central midfield. Left back Didier Domi also resumed starting duties after recovering from a left hamstring strain, while Ousmane Dabo took a place on the bench for the first time this season after missing the first six games with a right quad strain.
The teams traded goals just two minutes apart in the opening stages.
Feilhaber made an instant impact in his Revolution debut, setting up Perovic for the opening goal in the 12th minute. Lekic’s left-wing cross was half-cleared out to Feilhaber, who pulled the ball down and calmly laid a short pass into the path of Perovic for a first-time shot. Perovic unleashed a curling drive from 25 yards and nestled the ball inside the left post.
Sporting KC answered almost immediately, however, as Kamara leveled the score at 1-1 in the 14th minute. Teal Bunbury was the setup man, playing Kamara into the right side of the box. From there, Kamara wriggled free of Domi and drilled a low shot just inside the near post.
The visitors had a glorious chance to take the lead in the 29th minute, but Davy Arnaud’s first-time shot from eight yards out was denied by a quick reaction save from Matt Reis.
New England returned the pressure with a free kick from the top of the box in the 34th minute, but Perovic’s effort was blasted into the wall. Ten minutes later it was Zak Boggs’ turn to take a crack on goal at the end of a fantastic buildup between Feilhaber, Perovic and Joseph, but the second-year attacker skied his shot over the bar.
The Revs had another free-kick opportunity in the 61st minute when Lekic was clipped 20 yards from goal. Feilhaber lined up over the ball but his curling shot was blocked by the wall and the danger was cleared.
It was Kansas City which capitalized on a set piece in the 69th minute to take a 2-1 lead, Kamara notching his second goal of the game from the penalty spot. Kevin Alston challenged Bunbury in the box and played the ball over the end line, but he was adjudged to have clipped the SKC forward. Kamara stepped up and drilled the spot kick high inside the left post.
The Revs responded just three minutes later from a set piece of their own. Kenny Mansally – who replaced the injured Perovic (L knee sprain) in the 60th minute – curled a free kick into the box and Joseph rose above Kamara to nod the ball just under the crossbar.
Three minutes after pulling level at 2-2, the Revs went up a man when Collin – making his MLS debut – was issued a straight red card following a fracas in the box.
The home side made the most of its numerical advantage in the 83rd minute when Lekic converted Boggs’ right-wing cross. Boggs’ curling service found Lekic streaking across the box, and the Danish striker arrived ahead of his defender and sent a glancing header past SKC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.
Sporting KC had a chance to score a dramatic equalizer in the 90th minute when the ball popped free to Roger Espinoza 25 yards from goal, but the Honduran’s low drive was smothered by Reis.
The Revs will return to action on Tuesday, April 26, when they visit D.C. United for a U.S. Open Cup play-in match at Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md. The Revolution’s league schedule will resume on Saturday, April 30, with a road game against Chivas USA.
New England Revolution vs. Sporting Kansas City
April 23, 2011 – Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)
New England Revolution 3, Sporting Kansas City 2
NE – Marko Perovic (Benny Feilhaber) 12
SKC – Kei Kamara (Teal Bunbury) 14
SKC – Kei Kamara (penalty kick) 69
NE – Shalrie Joseph (Kenny Mansally) 72
NE – Rajko Lekic (Zak Boggs) 83
New England Revolution: Matt Reis, Didier Domi, A.J. Soares, Franco Coria, Kevin Alston, Benny Feilhaber, Shalrie Joseph ©, Stephen McCarthy (Zack Schilawski 64), Marko Perovic (Kenny Mansally 60), Rajko Lekic, Zak Boggs
Substitutes Not Used: Bobby Shuttleworth, Ousmane Dabo, Chris Tierney, Darrius Barnes, Ryan Cochrane
STATS*: Shots: 10; Shots on Goal: 3; Saves: 3; Corner Kicks: 3; Offside: 2; Fouls Committed: 17
Sporting Kansas City: Jimmy Nielsen, Michael Harrington, Matt Besler, Aurelian Collin, Roger Espinoza, Kei Kamara (Ryan Smith 87), Birahim Diop, C.J. Sapong, Milos Stojcev (Graham Zusi 88), Davy Arnaud ©, Teal Bunbury (Shavar Thomas 78)
Substitutes Not Used: Eric Kronberg, Korede Aiyegbusi, Stephane Auvray, Craig Rocastle,
STATS*: Shots: 14; Shots on Goal: 5; Saves: 0; Corner Kicks: 8; Offside: 1; Fouls Committed: 19
* Note that all statistics are unofficial
NE – Stephen McCarthy (caution) 19
SKC – Aurelien Collin (caution) 24
NE – Marko Perovic (caution) 42
SKC – Matt Besler (caution) 48
SKC – Michael Harrington (caution) 54
SKC – Aurelien Collin (ejection) 76
NE – Kenny Mansally (caution) 79
NE – Rajko Lekic (caution) 83
NE – Shalrie Joseph (caution) 93+
Referee: Edvin Jurisevic
Assistant Referees: Rob Fereday, James Conlee
Fourth Official: Mark Kadlecik
Weather: Cloudy and 52 degrees
New England: 2-2-3, 9 pts.
Sporting Kansas City: 1-3-1, 4 pts.
- Tonight’s game marked the debut of the Revolution’s new jersey sponsor, UnitedHealthcare … the team and the medical services company announced the multi-year partnership on Friday, April 22, at Gillette Stadium
- With the win, the Revolution pushed its all-time record against Kansas City to 13-20-8, and its home mark to 7-10-5 … the win was also the team’s second straight against KC after taking a 1-0 win at Gillette Stadium on Oct. 16, 2010
- The night marked the MLS and Revolution debut of U.S. National Team midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who was acquired by the team on Wednesday, April 20, through the MLS Allocation Process
- Feilhaber got the start in the first game for which he was available … he later recorded an assist on Marko Perovic’s goal to open to open the scoring
- Marko Perovic’s 12th minute goal was his first of the season and his seventh career goal … he later left the game in the 60th minute after suffering a sprained left knee.
- Marko Perovic’s goal snapped the Revs’ 192-minute scoreless streak that stretched from stoppage time at Vancouver on April 6 through two more games, and into the early stages of tonight’s contest
- Shalrie Joseph’s goal was his third of the season and his first since the second game of the year – March 26 against D.C. at home in a 2-1 win
- Rajko Lekic, who made his Gillette Stadium debut tonight, picked up the game-winning goal in the 83rd minute
- Lekic’s goal was the team’s first game-winning goal scored after the 75th minute since Zack Schilawski scored in the 80th minute against New York on May 29, 2010, also in a 3-2 win at Gillette Stadium
- Kenny Mansally’s assist on Joseph’s game-tying goal was his first of the season and the fourth of his career … it was his first assist since Oct. 3, 2009, in a 1-1 draw at Colorado
- Zak Boggs also recorded an assist this evening, marking the sophomore midfielder’s first-career MLS assist
- The Revs are now 2-1-1 at Gillette Stadium this season … in 2010, it took the Revs five games to accumulate seven points at home
- Pat Phelan, who started the team’s first five games in the midfield, was unavailable tonight while suffering a headache … he was suspended for the team’s last outing, on April 17, at Houston
- Shalrie Joseph also returned to the lineup tonight after also sitting out Sunday’s game in Houston while serving a red-card suspension
- Zack Schilawski extended his team-best consecutive appearances streak to 10 games when he came on in the 64th minute for Stephen McCarthy
- Didier Domi returned to the lineup after missing Sunday’s game in Houston with a left hamstring strain