KANSAS CITY, Kan. – The New England Revolution huffed and puffed for the better part of 90 minutes in the Kansas City heat on Sunday afternoon, and finally they blew the house down at Children’s Mercy Park in the dying stages, getting a late goal from second-half substitute Ema Boateng to claim a 2-1 win over 10-man Sporting Kansas City.
With actual temperatures in the low 90s and “feels like” heat in the triple digits, Sunday’s game was something of a slog for both sides, and it looked poised to finish in a stalemate as shorthanded SKC was holding on for dear life to a 1-1 scoreline. Gustavo Bou gave visiting New England a halftime lead, but Johnny Russell had pulled the hosts back with a stunning free kick just minutes after teammate Uri Rosell had been sent off for a second bookable offense.
That simply set the stage for Boateng to make a difference off the bench – as he has so many times since arriving in New England ahead of the 2021 season – coming on in the 72nd minute and scoring what proved to be the game winner 15 minutes later.
“The heat, humidity was really challenging today,” said sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena. “It made for a bit of a slow and sloppy game, but you know, I give their team credit. When they went down to 10 men, I thought for 15 minutes they played very well and had advantages on us.
“Then I think over the last 15-20 minutes of the game we played pretty well, and created some chances, but were sloppy with our chances and got a bit of an ugly goal, which we’re going to take. It’s an important three points on the road.”
It’s true that Boateng’s goal won’t make many highlight reels, but the Revs will hardly care. Cutting inside from the left, Bou hit a dipping shot from distance that forced SKC goalkeeper Tim Melia to spill the rebound, and Boateng pounced, able to get just enough on his shot to squirt it over line.
“Playing with Gustavo for the last year-and-a-half, I know his tendencies, especially if he drifts out to the left and he cuts inside, you know he’s taking a shot,” Boateng said. “He hits some pretty powerful shots, so I just took a chance on it knowing if he gets a touch on it, I will be there for the rebound. So, I just read it. I knew Gustavo coming in was going to take a shot, and just be there for the rebound.”
Boateng has been there on many occasions for the Revs, racking up four goals and seven assists in just 839 minutes played with New England, mostly as a substitute. Sunday was the sixth time since Boateng arrived in New England that he’s come off the bench to grab a goal or an assist, and the fifth time it’s helped the Revs to either a win or draw.
This particular match was perfectly suited for Boateng, bringing fresh legs into the game against a 10-man Sporting KC side that had been playing shorthanded in searing temperatures.
“Especially coming off the bench, I just know that I’ll be fresher than most of the guys there,” said Boateng. “Just looking for my opportunities, and you know, right when it came, took it. It’s just great for a winger coming into a game like this, especially they’re a man down, too, so you know they’re going to be sitting back. You have more opportunities to get on the ball and make a difference.
“So yeah, just stayed aggressive and we got a win out of it.”