FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A place in the formal Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup bracket will be on the line when the New England Revolution visits Sporting Kansas City in an Open Cup play-in match on Wednesday, May 25, at the Blue Valley District Activities Complex in Overland Park, Kan.
Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. ET and fans can watch the game via live streaming video on revolutionsoccer.net, with commentary provided by Sporting Kansas City’s Callum Williams and Revolution play-by-play man Brad Feldman.
The winner of Wednesday night’s match will enter the U.S. Open Cup bracket in the third round, joining seven MLS clubs and eight teams from lower divisions in the last 16 of the tournament.
Current Form: Dramatic road wins in previous play-in round set the stage for Revs and Sporting
A pair of goals from Kheli Dube and an additional strike from rookie Alan Koger lifted the Revs to a 3-2 victory over D.C. United in the previous round of play-in matches on April 26 at Maryland SoccerPlex. Dube struck twice – in the 34th and 47th minutes – before Koger’s first professional goal extended the Revolution’s lead to 3-0 in the 69th minute. Branko Boskovic pulled two goals back for D.C. in the 73rd and 82nd minutes to provide a tense finish, but the Revs held on through six minutes of stoppage time.
Sporting Kansas City used a goal from rookie forward C.J. Sapong just two minutes into extra time to secure a 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo on April 6 at Aggie Soccer Stadium. Backup goalkeeper Eric Kronberg made six saves in 120 minutes of action to secure the clean sheet.
In league action, the Revs (3-4-4, 13 pts.) saw their 283-minute shutout streak come to an end in a 2-1 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes this past weekend at Buck Shaw Stadium, while Sporting (1-6-1, 4 pts.) has lost five straight as part of its 10-game road trip to start the season.
Past Meetings: Lekic’s late strike earned Revolution 3-2 victory on April 23
Benny Feilhaber picked up an assist just 12 minutes into his MLS debut and Rajko Lekic scored the game-winning goal in the 83rd minute as the Revs claimed a come-from-behind, 3-2 win over Sporting KC on April 23 at Gillette Stadium.
Marko Perovic and Shalrie Joseph also scored for the Revolution, sandwiched around a pair of goals by Sporting KC forward Kei Kamara. The visitors finished the game a man down after French defender Aurelien Collin was issued a straight red card in the 76th minute.
This will be just the second time these two clubs have ever met outside of MLS regular-season action after a SuperLiga 2009 meeting finished level at 1-1.
Injury Report: Mansally, McCarthy both questionable for New England
Both Kenny Mansally (R foot contusion) and Stephen McCarthy (L shoulder subluxation) were added to the injury report on Tuesday, with the duo listed as questionable after picking up recent knocks. They’re joined on the injury list by Ousmane Dabo (R adductor strain) – who was upgraded to doubtful as he continues his recovery – and Perovic (L knee sprain), who remains out.
Rookie midfielder Konrad Warzycha (R knee surgery) will likely be the only player unavailable to Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes on Wednesday night. Both Omar Bravo (sports hernia) and Ryan Smith (L knee inflammation) recently returned from injuries and the duo started this past weekend in a 1-0 loss to Seattle Sounders FC.
Key Player: Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth
After playing nine consecutive games on the road to start the 2011 season – including eight regular-season matches and one U.S. Open Cup play-in game – Sporting Kansas City will finally get the chance to play in front of its home fans on Wednesday night at the Blue Valley District Activities Complex.
Considering the wait Sporting has endured to finally host a match, the home side will likely be eager to press forward in numbers in the early stages. The Revolution’s backline will have to withstand the pressure, while goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth – who is expected to get the nod between the pipes – will need to be on his toes to prevent Sporting from gaining momentum.
“They’ve had a tough start to the season,” head coach Steve Nicol said in reference to Sporting. “Obviously when they’re playing seven million games away from home, it’s hard. It gets a bit monotonous, so I’m sure they’re at home and they’ll want to do well and get a win.”
Final Thoughts: Reserves earn another chance to shine
In the midst of a three-games-in-eight-days stretch which also includes league matches against the San Jose Earthquakes (May 21) and LA Galaxy (May 28), the Revs are expected to use a healthy dose of reserves – including Home Grown player Diego Fagundez – on Wednesday night against Sporting KC.
Nicol took a similar approach in late April against D.C. United and was rewarded with a 3-2 victory, and many of those same players will be keen to take advantage of a comparable situation in Kansas.
“Other than practice and reserve games, this is a huge chance for us,” said rookie midfielder Ryan Kinne, who played 90 minutes against D.C. in the previous play-in round. “Getting a win down in D.C. kind of gave us another opportunity to go out and show well for coach. I’m sure Kansas City will be playing a lot of their first team guys, so making a good impression would definitely help us a lot.”