KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The New England Revolution closes out a two-game road trip on Saturday night at Livestrong Sporting Park, where the club will visit Eastern Conference leading Sporting Kansas City for the second time this season.
Kickoff between the Revs (6-9-4, 22 pts.) and Sporting KC (11-6-3, 36 pts.) is set for 8:30 p.m. ET and the game will be available regionally on both Comcast SportsNet New England and 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Current Form: Midweek losses spur both sides heading into the weekend
After having their five-game unbeaten run snapped last weekend against Toronto FC, the Revs suffered their second straight loss to a Canadian side on Wednesday night at Stade Saputo with a 2-1 defeat to the Montreal Impact. Lee Nguyen registered his fourth goal of the season with a fantastic strike from distance, but a lack of sharpness in the attacking third prevented the Revs from further threatening Montreal’s backline.
“The other night (in Montreal) it just seemed like the stars didn’t align and we couldn’t complete as many passes as we normally do,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “Unfortunately it was a little bit flat. So the key is to make sure we don’t come out flat (against Sporting KC).”
Kansas City suffered a loss by the same 2-1 score line on Wednesday night at the Houston Dynamo’s BBVA Compass Stadium. The loss rounded out a three-game road trip on which Sporting booked its place in the U.S. Open Cup final with a 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Union and also claimed a 2-0 win over the Columbus Crew.
Past Meetings: Shorthanded Revs suffered 3-0 setback at LSP back on March 17
Saturday night will mark the Revolution’s second visit to Livestrong Sporting Park this season after the club suffered its worst loss of the campaign at the venue back on March 17. The game was largely influenced by the 14th-minute ejection of Revs center back Stephen McCarthy, which left the Revolution shorthanded for the final 76 minutes and ultimately unable to prevent Sporting KC from running out 3-0 winners.
Through 19 games, that 3-0 loss remains the only game the Revs have lost by more than one goal this season, and after feeling confident with their performance in that match before McCarthy’s red card, the Revs are eager to get another shot with a full complement of players on Saturday night.
“(We remember) the feeling it was to lose 3-0 at a place like this, to a team I thought for the first 15 minutes before the red card we were all over,” said Revs midfielder Kelyn Rowe. “We’re going to take those first 15 minutes and we’re going to break it into a full 90.”
Injury Report: McCarthy joins Revs in Kansas City; Joseph still questionable
McCarthy missed Wednesday’s game in Montreal with concussive-like symptoms after a clash of heads with TFC forward Ryan Johnson last weekend, but the towering center back has since been upgraded to probable and flew to Kansas City on Friday to join the Revs for the second leg of their road trip. Although McCarthy’s availability for Saturday’s game remains to be determined, the hope is that the second-year man could feature at LSP.
“He’s moving along well,” Heaps said of McCarthy. “It looks like we’ll make a decision pretty soon with him. But the plan is to have as many available players as we can.”
Another player Heaps hopes to have available is captain Shalrie Joseph, who also missed the midweek game with back stiffness. Joseph is with the team in Kansas City but is listed as questionable on the latest injury report with hip irritation and Heaps said he’d be further evaluated after Friday’s late afternoon training session.
Sporting KC has a deceptively long injury report with five of the eight players listed as probable with minor knocks, but the hosts will be missing Peterson Joseph this weekend after the midfielder – known for his nickname, “The Haitian Xavi” – was issued a straight red card in Wednesday’s loss to Houston.
Key Player: Revolution midfielder Clyde Simms
Despite completing 83 percent of their passes against Montreal, the Revs lamented their lack of incisiveness on the night and pointed to giveaways in crucial areas as one of the primary factors in the loss. But one player who was sharp until his 65th-minute departure was central midfielder Clyde Simms, who completed 98 percent of his passes (41-of-42) at Stade Saputo.
The Revs could use a similar showing from Simms on Saturday night to settle the midfield and help dictate the pace against a Sporting KC side which likes to hold the ball and send numbers forward.
“I think [the passing] picked up a little bit,” said Simms. “We were struggling towards the beginning of [the Montreal] game and it got a little bit better as the game went on … With the loss I think it’s good that we have the quick turnaround. Not too much time to think about it and we’re right back on the field on Saturday looking to get a result against a good team.”
Final Thoughts: Revs prepared to test their mettle against conference leaders
“It’s a great time for a great test; to see what we’re made of,” said Heaps. “We haven’t played particularly well in the last two games in all areas of the field. We have a quick turnaround and a hard environment, with a team that’s number one in the league. What else can you ask for? If you’re a player, you want to go out there and measure yourself, and that’s what we have to do.”