KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A playoff-like atmosphere is to be expected on Friday night at Sporting Park, where second place in the Eastern Conference will be on the line when the New England Revolution visits Sporting Kansas City in front of a national television audience.
The third-place Revs (13-13-3, 42 pts.) enter this weekend’s action trailing second-place Sporting KC (13-10-6, 45 pts.) by just three points and would climb ahead of SKC with a win on Friday night by virtue of the first tiebreaker, which is overall wins. Both sides will have four games remaining after the weekend.
NBC Sports Network’s coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET, while 98.5 The Sports Hub will have the local radio call.
Current Form: Revs look to rebound after having win streak snapped; SKC back on track
New England had its second five-game winning streak of the season snapped last weekend at Crew Stadium, where a bit of set-piece magic from Federico Higuain sent the Revs to their first loss since early August. Columbus goalkeeper Steve Clark kept the Revolution scoreless for the first time since mid-July (a span of nine games), sprawling to keep out a potential Charlie Davies equalizer in the closing stages.
While both players and coaches admitted postgame that it wasn’t their best performance, the chances were still there for the Revs to take a result away from Columbus, leaving them with confidence to take forward into the final five games of the regular season.
“There were plenty of games that could’ve gone either way, and this one didn’t go our way,” said Chris Tierney. “We had chances to win the game and it just didn’t work out for us. So our confidence is still high, we still know we’re playing well, we’re in good form, so we’re confident and we’re going to keep pushing.”
Sporting KC, meanwhile, has righted the ship in recent weeks after a difficult spell saw the defending champs slip out of the East’s top spot. Since a four-game losing streak through the end of August and into September, SKC has won three straight in all competitions, including a pair of CONCACAF Champions League contests.
While Sporting KC hasn’t played a league game since a 4-0 win over Chivas USA two weeks ago, Peter Vermes’ team did host Nicaraguan side Real Esteli in a CCL game this past Tuesday night, rolling to a 3-0 win.
Past Meetings: Revolution aims to sweep the season series after a pair of wins in Foxborough
Teal Bunbury has haunted his former team since joining the Revolution this past preseason, scoring in both of New England’s wins over Sporting KC this year – a 2-0 triumph on April 26 and a 3-1 victory just three weeks ago on September 3. That pair of wins at Gillette Stadium sets up the chance for the Revs to sweep the regular-season series with SKC on Friday night, something they haven’t done since 1999.
In order to do that, however, the Revs will have to do something they’ve never done before – win at Sporting Park. The Revs are 0-2-2 in four previous regular-season visits to the venue, while they also dropped the second leg of the Eastern Conference semifinal series at Sporting Park last season.
In fact, Friday night will be the Revolution’s first visit to Kansas City since last year’s playoff exit, when the Revs pushed Sporting KC to extra time before succumbing to Claudio Bieler’s 113th-minute goal.
Injury Report: Soares questionable for the weekend; Tierney back in the mix
Center back A.J. Soares has started all but one of New England’s games this season – missing a mid-July meeting with FC Dallas because of suspension – but his status for Friday night is up in the air as he’s listed as questionable with right calf tightness.
The Revs do have a bit of added defensive depth, however, as left back Tierney returned from a two-month absence to play the final 34 minutes of last weekend’s loss to the Crew and almost helped set up a last-ditch equalizer in the final minutes.
“It was a tough stretch for me,” said Tierney, who missed a total of seven games through injury. “I’m excited and feeling good, so I’m happy to be back. The team’s playing great, so I’m hoping I can contribute down the stretch.”
Still sidelined are Andy Dorman, who’s inching his way back from the right knee sprain which has kept him out since mid-July, and Stephen McCarthy, who’s recovering from surgery to repair his left meniscus.
Two Sporting KC defenders – Ike Opara (right ankle) and Chance Myers (left Achilles) – are out for the season, while midfielder Christian Duke (right ankle stress fracture) will also be sidelined on Friday night. Also dealing with injuries are Jacob Peterson (left hamstring) and Aurelien Collin (right ankle), both listed as questionable.
Final Thoughts: Revs focused on their own results in midst of hectic Eastern Conference
“The coaches have done a great job making us just take one game at a time and know that every game is like a final,” said Andrew Farrell. “We’ve got to make sure that every game we get the most points we can, and then the rest will take care of itself. We don’t have to worry about any of the other scores, really – we’ve just got to take care of our own games.”