FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution look to stretch their league-best unbeaten run into double digits and climb to the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings on Wednesday night when they’ll visit Sporting Park for a nationally-televised meeting with Sporting Kansas City.
The Revs (5-2-4, 19 pts.) would stand alone atop the Major League Soccer standings with a midweek victory, while Sporting KC (3-2-5, 14 pts.) is looking to keep pace amidst a crowded Western Conference.
This will be the Revolution’s fifth nationally-televised game through their first 12 matches and ESPN2 will cover the action on Wednesday night beginning at 8 p.m. ET. The radio call will be available locally in both English on 98.5 The Sports Hub, and in Portuguese on WMVX 1570 AM Nossa Radio USA.
Current Form: Revs’ unbeaten run approaching club record despite another frustrating draw
Saturday night’s 1-1 draw with Toronto FC pushed the Revolution’s unbeaten run to nine games (5-0-4), just three shy of the club-record 12-game streak set early in the 2005 season. But the Revs weren’t exactly celebrating after Juan Agudelo’s third goal of the season was cancelled out by Michael Bradley’s second-half equalizer.
It was the fourth straight game in which the Revs took a lead into halftime but the second straight week they saw that lead evaporate after the break, and it’s something they’ll be looking to address at Sporting Park.
“The last two games we weren’t able to finish the games well, so I would say the focus is to finish out the games,” said Agudelo. “We’re doing the best we can in the first halves, we just have to finish out the second halves.”
While the Revs will be on short rest, Sporting KC will be well rested after their meeting with the Colorado Rapids – scheduled for this past Saturday night – was postponed because of inclement weather. Peter Vermes’ side last took the field on May 9 at RFK Stadium, where a Dom Dwyer goal helped SKC to a 1-1 draw with D.C. United.
All told Sporting KC enters this midweek encounter carrying a modest three-game unbeaten run (1-0-2), while the 2013 MLS Cup champions have yet to lose at home this season with two wins and a trio of draws.
Past Meetings: Led by Bunbury and Nguyen, Revs swept 2014 season series vs. SKC
Lee Nguyen scored three times and Teal Bunbury notched a pair of goals against his former club as the Revs won all three meetings with Sporting KC last season by a combined score of 8-3.
That trio of victories included the Revolution’s first-ever win at Sporting Park, where Kelyn Rowe and Jose Goncalves scored first-half goals to set the stage for Jermaine Jones’ dramatic 85th-minute winner – his first-ever goal in Major League Soccer.
Last year’s season sweep heavily turned the tables for the Revs, who had been winless in their previous six regular-season meetings with SKC (0-3-3) between 2011 and 2013.
Injury Report: Goncalves returns as Heaps prepares to rotate squad through busy week
Central defensive stalwart Jose Goncalves was back in the Revolution’s starting lineup on Saturday night, marking his first start in more than a month after overcoming a lingering calf injury.
Goncalves went the full 90 minutes against TFC and admitted there’s always an adjustment process when returning from a lengthy layoff, but added that he’ll be fully fit and ready to go despite the short turnaround ahead of Wednesday night’s trip to Sporting Park.
“I never think back about the injury,” Goncalves said. “As soon as I’m on the field and looking forward to this week and the next game on Wednesday, I’m only focused about the game and what we’re going to do to be prepared for the game. The injury’s behind me, so I don’t think about it.”
While Goncalves is confident that he’ll be ready for the hefty workload this week, head coach Jay Heaps said on Monday morning that the staff will be careful to manage minutes – and potentially delve into their depth – with another critical showdown with D.C. United looming on Saturday night back at Gillette Stadium.
“We’re going to continue to monitor the next day or so to see who we feel can turn around from Saturday and play Wednesday,” Heaps said. “But we also have a thought process of what we want to do Wednesday and Saturday coming up.
“There are definitely three or four players each week that we want or feel that could start, so we definitely want to test those guys over the next three or four days, as well.”
Final Thoughts: Heaps says SKC “make it hellish” to play at Sporting Park
“They make it hellish to play there,” Heaps said of Sporting’s high-pressure style. “Last I checked they still create the most turnovers and still put you under a lot of pressure. They still have their identity and it’s always a battle, no matter what, when you go there.”