KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Back on the road after a brief one-game stop in Foxborough, the New England Revolution visits traditional Eastern Conference power Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night at Sporting Park.
Kickoff between the Revs (8-8-6, 30 pts.) and Sporting KC (10-7-6, 36 pts.) is set for 8:30 p.m. ET, with regional coverage on both Comcast SportsNet and 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Current Form: Both sides looking to bounce back from frustrating home losses
After back-to-back wins away from home, the Revs returned to Gillette Stadium last weekend to host Toronto FC, but despite cobbling together huge advantages in both possession (64-36) and shots (17-6), Matias Laba’s goal just 90 seconds into the match condemned the Revs to a 1-0 loss. It marked the second straight game in which the Revs conceded in the opening 10 minutes, something they know can’t be repeated on Saturday night.
“It comes down to us as players starting the game well and making smart decisions off the bat,” said Chris Tierney. “We definitely have to do that against a top team like Kansas City, where if you concede an early goal and have to chase the game on the road, it’s always going to be very difficult.”
Sporting KC suffered a similar fate at home against the New York Red Bulls, outshooting the visitors by a margin of 27-5, but conceding three counterattack goals in a 3-2 loss. The result vaulted the Red Bulls ahead of Sporting KC into first place in the Eastern Conference with 11 games remaining for both sides.
Past Meetings: Scoreless draw on March 23 in Foxborough marred by high winds
Persistent and intense wind gusts were the primary talking point after the Revolution and Sporting KC played to a scoreless draw back on March 23 in what was New England’s home opener at Gillette Stadium.
The result extended the Revolution’s winless run against Kansas City to five games (0-2-3), although that stretch does include a pair of draws at Sporting Park. The Revs have been shut out in each of the past four meetings, last scoring a goal against Sporting KC via Rajko Lekic in a 1-1 draw on July 30, 2011.
Injury Report: Agudelo on the brink of return; Zusi questionable for Sporting KC
Juan Agudelo told the assembled media earlier this week that he feels ready to return from the right knee sprain which has forced him to miss the past seven games, but Revolution head coach Jay Heaps said the final decision on when Agudelo can play falls to the club’s medical staff.
“It’s not his decision and it’s not my decision,” Heaps said. “We have a medical staff that’s looking out for the best interests of the player. He’s so close. He’s getting there. But we want to be patient and we want to be smart, because we need him for this stretch for the playoffs.”
Central midfielder Clyde Simms joins Agudelo on this week’s injury report, listed as questionable with turf toe.
U.S. National Team midfielder and Sporting KC lynchpin Graham Zusi (R quad strain) is listed as questionable ahead of this weekend. Zusi missed Sporting’s loss to the Red Bulls after suffering an injury in last Wednesday’s MLS All-Star Game, but is pushing to make his return against the Revs.
While Zusi fights for fitness, both Paulo Nagamura (L ankle sprain) and Josh Gardner (L hamstring strain) have been ruled out for this weekend’s match.
Final Thoughts: Revs prepared for Sporting KC’s “overwhelming” approach
“They’re probably the best team in the league in what they do and how they do it,” said Heaps. “It takes a lot of preparation and game plans have to be totally airtight going in there, because they overwhelm you. That’s kind of the best way to describe it in terms of their pressure, in terms of intimidation, in terms of physicality, in terms of getting things to go their way. You have to be prepared for that type of environment.”