First-leg victory “a step forward,” but Revs know plenty of work still remains

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It’s halftime, or so the saying goes.

The New England Revolution will hit the road for the second and decisive leg of a two-game, aggregate-goals Eastern Conference Semifinal series with Sporting Kansas City carrying a precious one-goal advantage following Saturday night’s determined 2-1 win at Gillette Stadium.

It wasn’t a work of art – the teams combined for 25 fouls and seven yellow cards – but the Revs won’t care much about the method after second-half goals from Andy Dorman and Kelyn Rowe put them in an advantageous position heading into Wednesday night’s return leg at Sporting Park.

“It was a hard-fought battle between two teams fighting for everything,” said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps. “It certainly wasn’t a pretty game, but two teams pushing hard and trying to get ahead in the playoffs.”

Neither side looked particularly threatening in a choppy, disjointed first half, but the game gradually opened up – as did the skies on a rainy night in Foxborough – after the break. Dorman’s 55th-minute strike was the result of a scramble in the box, but Rowe’s 67th-minute goal was the end product of a beautiful piece of buildup play.

“We like to take it down and play a little bit, and that first half was hard,” said Rowe. “I think both teams were kind of just dumping it in and were hoping for second balls. You saw the game open up as the second half went through and I think we found some good chances.”

Although Aurelien Collin pulled one back for Sporting KC shortly after Rowe made it 2-0, New England maintained its one-goal edge late on when goalkeeper Matt Reis made a stellar one-handed stop on Dom Dwyer.

It’s an advantage for the Revs to protect entering the second leg, but Heaps has no illusions about the task which remains ahead of his side on Wednesday night at Sporting Park.

“I think it’s a step forward, but at the same time, it’s a very difficult road ahead,” he said. “If we’re talking three or four goals, then maybe this is a big step forward, but it’s a battle. We have a one-goal lead. It’s halftime and we have a big, big battle going to Kansas City.”