FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A spot in the Eastern Conference Championship will be on the line Wednesday night when the New England Revolution visits Sporting Kansas City for the second and decisive leg of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series.
A win or draw will send the Revs into the next round following their 2-1 victory in last weekend’s first leg at Gillette Stadium, while a loss by two or more goals would see Sporting KC advance. Should SKC win by a single goal on Wednesday night, a 30-minute extra time period and potentially penalty kicks would be required.
Kickoff from Sporting Park is set for 9 p.m. ET and Comcast SportsNet will televise the game on alternate channels before joining the action in progress on CSN immediately following the conclusion of Boston Celtics coverage. The radio call will be available on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s HD2 channel.
For those with Direct Kick or MLS LIVE subscriptions, local blackouts will be lifted.
Current Form: First-leg victory extends Revs’ winning streak to four games, unbeaten run to seven
The Revolution entered the postseason as one of Major League Soccer’s hottest teams and continued that fine run of form with a fourth straight victory in last Saturday night’s first leg. Most importantly the Revs now carry a one-goal lead into Sporting Park, giving them an advantage to protect in a hostile road environment.
But despite knowing a draw would be enough to send the Revs through to their first Eastern Conference Championship since 2007, they’re being careful not to approach the match with too conservative a mindset.
“You can’t sit back and defend for 90 minutes against a team like that; they’ll break you down,” said rookie right back Andrew Farrell. “So we’re going to play. It’s like a second half. We’ve got to get another goal. Basically it’s a 0-0 score right now and we’ve got to get the win.”
Last weekend’s loss snapped Sporting KC’s four-game unbeaten run (3-0-1), while it was the first time SKC had conceded two goals in a match since a 3-2 loss to the New York Red Bulls on Aug. 3 (a span of 11 games).
Past Meetings: Lengthy scoreless run snapped in first-leg victory
All the chatter about New England’s recent inability to score against Sporting KC was put to bed swiftly last Saturday night when Andy Dorman and Kelyn Rowe scored a pair of goals in a 12-minute span. Unofficially – because regular-season records and postseason records are kept separate – Dorman’s goal snapped a 556-minute scoreless run against Sporting KC, while the victory ended a six-game winless streak against the club.
Sporting Park presents a different challenge, however, and the Revs are still winless (0-2-2) in four visits to the venue which opened in 2011. Most recently New England suffered a 3-0 loss in Kansas City on Aug. 10, but two of Sporting’s goals that evening were scored by the now-departed Kei Kamara.
Injury Report: Alston, Tierney pushing to return after missing first leg
Both Kevin Alston (R hamstring strain) and Chris Tierney (R ankle irritation) were sidelined for last weekend’s first-leg victory, leaving left-back duties to capable utility man Darrius Barnes.
Barnes was solid in his 90-minute shift and head coach Jay Heaps would feel perfectly comfortable calling on him again for the second leg, but there’s also hope that both Alston and Tierney could be available after making strides in their recoveries.
“Hopefully they’re available,” Heaps said after training on Monday. “It’s tough when you’re playing without a couple guys with experience on your team. We’ll see where they are. They were close on Saturday, so we’ll see where they are for Wednesday.”
Sporting KC lists two players as questionable on its official injury report: Paulo Nagamura and Josh Gardner, both of whom are recovering from left ankle injuries. Nagamura – who has missed the last seven games – stated last week that he hoped to be available for Wednesday night’s second leg.
Final Thoughts: Revs embracing the challenge which awaits them at Sporting Park
“It’s going to be fun,” said Farrell. “I think playing against one of the better teams in our league, especially at their place when they need to get a result, it’s what the playoffs are. I know speaking for the team, we’re really excited for the opportunity.”