FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Two weeks after the clubs played to a scoreless draw at Livestrong Sporting Park, the New England Revolution and Sporting Kansas City will square off in a rematch on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium as the Revs return home for the first time since mid-July.
The Revs (6-10-5, 23 pts.) and Sporting (11-7-4, 37 pts.) will kick off at 7:30 p.m. as the second half of a special international doubleheader at Gillette Stadium. Italian giant AC Milan and Honduran power Olimpia will feature in the first match at 4:30 p.m.
Comcast SportsNet New England will televise the Revolution game live in high definition, while 98.5 The Sports Hub will carry the radio call.
Current Form: Both sides looking to bounce back from a forgettable July
The Revs will be happy to have seen the calendar flip to August after finishing the month of July on a season-long four-game winless run. After opening July with a 2-0 win over the New York Red Bulls, the Revs went 0-3-1 to close out the month and have slipped into a tie for eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings. Most recently the Revolution conceded a 90th-minute winner in a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Union despite a strong performance.
“We created plenty of chances and we looked decent going forward, it’s just that final ball, that final pass,” Chris Tierney said of the loss to Philly. “We felt like we could’ve been a few goals up there in the first half, then we had the majority of the play in the second half at 1-1. So there were positives to take, but at the same time, we realize that if you don’t capitalize and you make one or two mistakes it can cost you the game.”
Sporting KC will also be relieved to see July in the rearview mirror after finishing the month on a three-game winless run. A scoreless draw with New England was sandwiched between losses to the Houston Dynamo and Columbus Crew, while SKC also went winless in a pair of recent international friendlies, including a 1-1 draw with English Premier League club Stoke City this past Wednesday night.
Past Meetings: Familiar foes square off for third time this season, second time in two weeks
Saturday night’s meeting rounds out the three-game season series between the Revs and Sporting KC, which have already met twice at Livestrong Sporting Park.
Sporting claimed a 3-0 win in the first matchup all the way back on March 17 – aided in large part by a 14th-minute red card to Revolution defender Stephen McCarthy – but the most recent meeting just two weeks ago likely provides a better gauge of where the teams are currently. In that match the Revs stood tall defensively and earned what is at present their only road shutout of the season in a gritty 0-0 draw.
Injury Report: Pair of Revs defenders potentially sidelined; Sporting KC also shorthanded
Kevin Alston and A.J. Soares have been staples along the Revolution’s backline this season, but both could potentially miss out on Saturday night’s meeting with Sporting KC because of injury.
Soares is the only Revolution player to have started every game this season but that streak is in jeopardy as the second-year center back is doubtful with a right hamstring strain. Alston – who has started 19 of New England’s 21 games – is questionable with soreness in his left hamstring, while recently-acquired Blair Gavin is unlikely to make his Revolution debut as he’s doubtful with left hamstring tightness.
The visitors are dealing with their fair share of injuries, as well, as Sporting KC could be missing as many as six players because of various ailments. Most notably midfielder Jacob Peterson (R shoulder sprain) was listed as out on Tuesday’s injury report, while Aurelien Collin (facial fracture), Chance Myers (groin strain) and C.J. Sapong (R adductor strain) were all questionable.
Both sides will also be missing a player to Olympic duty as Jerry Bengtson (New England) and Roger Espinoza (Kansas City) will be representing Honduras in a massive quarterfinal clash with gold-medal favorite Brazil on Saturday afternoon.
Key Player: Revolution center back Stephen McCarthy
McCarthy hasn’t had much luck against Sporting KC this season, picking up an early red card in the first meeting on March 17 and succumbing to cramps late in the recent scoreless draw, but the Revs will need their towering center back to be on top of his game this weekend.
With his usual central defensive partner (Soares) potentially sidelined, more responsibility will fall on McCarthy to marshal the backline as the Revs aim to match the defensive fortitude they had two weeks ago at Livestrong Sporting Park.
Final Thoughts: While dealing with Joseph’s departure, Revs focused on task at hand
“Guys that have been around for a while know that it’s part of the business and it happens,” Clyde Simms said of the midweek trade which sent Shalrie Joseph to Chivas USA. “As long as I’ve been playing I’ve seen so many guys come and go. But Shalrie was a special one because he was our captain and he’s been here forever.
“That was a tough one for us, but we’re happy for him in the new situation and Jay (Heaps) has done a good job of keeping us positive,” Simms added. “To be honest, the intensity in training the last couple days has been really good and I think guys have responded very well. Hopefully that translates tomorrow night.”