FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Revitalized following last week’s successful two-game swing through D.C. and Colorado, the New England Revolution hits the road once again this weekend as the club pays its first-ever visit to LIVESTRONG Sporting Park for an Eastern Conference showdown with Sporting Kansas City.
The Revs (4-9-8, 20 pts.) and Sporting (6-6-8, 26 pts.) will get underway at 8:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 30, and the game will be televised live in high definition on Comcast SportsNet New England, while 98.5 The Sports Hub will have the call on the radio.
Current Form: Revs aim to start streak of their own by snapping Sporting’s 12-game unbeaten run
A last-gasp penalty kick from Shalrie Joseph helped the Revolution claim a point from a wild 2-2 draw with the Colorado Rapids last Saturday night, capping a successful road trip which began with a 1-0 win over D.C. United in our Nation’s Capital three days prior. Not only did the victory in D.C. snap a nine-game winless run, but the four points the Revs garnered during their travels lifted them back into the mix in a crowded Eastern Conference.
“I think we have to be pretty pleased looking back,” said forward Zack Schilawski while assessing the trip as a whole. “Obviously six points would’ve been better, but … we’re pleased to kind of be back on the positive path here and hopefully we can keep it going.”
It will take a spirited effort for New England to continue its recent turnaround this weekend at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, where Kansas City is unbeaten (3-0-3) since opening the state-of-the-art stadium in early June. In fact, Sporting hasn’t lost a league match since May 21, going 5-0-7 in its last 12 games after starting the season with a dismal 1-6-1 mark during an extended road trip.
“They’re flying right now,” said Schilawski. “As much as we’re trying to get some momentum going our way, they definitely have proven that they’re on the upswing. We have to match their energy, match their enthusiasm and go out there and work hard for 90 minutes, play a full game and hopefully come away with something.”
Past Meetings: Lekic’s late strike lifted Revs to victory over Sporting on April 23
Rajko Lekic scored his first MLS goal in the 83rd minute to lift the Revs to a dramatic 3-2 win over Sporting on April 23 at Gillette Stadium. It was the perfect capper to a memorable night for the Revolution, which debuted its first-ever jersey sponsor – UnitedHealthcare – and introduced U.S. National Team midfielder Benny Feilhaber to the home fans in his MLS debut.
The clubs met again in a U.S. Open Cup play-in match amidst torrential downpours at the Blue Valley District Activities Complex on May 25, with Kansas City running out 5-0 winners to claim a spot in the third round of the formal U.S. Open Cup bracket.
Injury Report: Alston, Cochrane both question marks for NE; Arnaud, Collin out for KC
Revolution defenders Kevin Alston (L turf toe) and Ryan Cochrane (L foot pain) are both hoping to overcome injuries to take part in this weekend’s trip to Kansas City. Alston was listed as questionable on Tuesday’s injury report, while Cochrane – who returned to Boston halfway through last week’s road trip for further tests on his foot – was listed as doubtful but increased his odds by taking part in full training on Thursday morning.
While the injured duo will fight for inclusion, Chris Tierney will be forced to sit out while serving a mandatory one-game suspension following his ejection from last weekend’s draw with Colorado.
“[We’ll miss] his experience,” head coach Steve Nicol said of Tierney’s absence. “Set pieces – his balls into the penalty box from free kicks and corners have been fantastic. So we’re going to miss that, but I’m sure we’ll find an answer for it.”
Sporting will be without a pair of players this weekend who started in the April meeting at Gillette Stadium, as both Davy Arnaud (sports hernia surgery) and Aurelien Collin (lower back contusion) are recovering from long-term injuries.
Key Player: Revolution defender Darrius Barnes
With Cochrane injured during last week’s road trip, Darrius Barnes returned to his natural center back position and filled in admirably against D.C. and Colorado. With Tierney suspended this weekend and options limited at the outside back positions, Barnes could be asked to deputize once again at left back, a spot at which he’s started eight times this season.
Barnes also started the season opener on the right side of defense as the third-year defender has proven his versatility along the backline.
“This year’s been a learning experience for me, how to kind of handle coming off the bench and I feel like it’s given me an opportunity to show that I can be a versatile player and play on the left and the right,” said Barnes. “I feel like it’s great for me as a player, to grow as a player and to continue to work on different facets of my game. I’ll play wherever I’m called on to play.”
Final Thoughts: Desire to drive Revs on Saturday night
Having grinded their way to positive results in D.C. and Colorado last week, the Revs know what it takes to earn points on the road. They’ll require a similarly industrial approach on Saturday night at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, where they’ll run up against a Kansas City side brimming with confidence.
“I feel like we need it more than they do,” said Barnes. “That’s how we have to go out there and play, as if we have nothing to lose. We just have to go out there, fight, dig and claw for every loose ball and try to put some balls in the back of the net early so we can take that pressure off ourselves.”