FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – After wrapping up a three-game homestand midweek the New England Revolution will now head on the road for three straight, beginning on Saturday night when they’ll visit Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park.
Kickoff between the Revs (2-6-1, 7 pts.) and Sporting KC (2-2-3, 9 pts.) is set for 8:30 p.m. ET, with NBC Sports Boston televising the match and streaming the action live on NBCSportsBoston.com and the NBC Sports mobile app.
Brad Feldman, Paul Mariner and Naoko Funayama will have the English call there and on 98.5 The Sports Hub HD2, while Portuguese radio listeners can tune into 1260 AM Nossa Radio USA.
For the first time this season Revolution Pregame Live will hit the road as Elizabeth Pehota and Jeff Lemieux will break down the lineups and analyze the storylines from Children’s Mercy Park, while they’ll also be joined by special guest Aly Trost, a reporter for @BlueTestamentKC. Pregame coverage begins at 7:45 p.m. ET, streaming live on the club’s official Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube channels, as well as on revolutionsoccer.net.
Postgame coverage begins immediately after the final whistle on NBC Sports Boston, while host Rob “Hardy” Poole and former Revolution midfielder Clyde Simms will take calls for 30 minutes on 98.5 The Sports Hub HD2.
Current Form: “Enough is enough” after Revs suffer fourth home loss
Both the Revs and Sporting KC will be looking for bounce-back performances on Saturday night after suffering three-goal defeats in their most recent outings.
The Revs conceded three times in the final 15 minutes to drop a 3-0 result to the Montreal Impact midweek, New England’s fourth loss in six home games to start the season. Head coach Brad Friedel shouldered the blame for the performance, lamenting his side’s lack of motivation through the opening 45 minutes.
“We, as a staff, have watched the game, and again, I’ll stand by what I said in the press conference: (It’s) not the fault of the players, not the fault of the staff – it’s my fault,” Friedel said. “We should have the players motivated not to get outworked like that again.”
Most concerning from Friedel’s perspective was the Revolution’s lack of bite in the attack, as they didn’t register a shot on target and have now been limited to just three goals in six home games. New England’s six goals total are tied for second-fewest in the league, ahead of only defending champions Atlanta United FC.
“I think we just need to be more efficient. I think we need to create a lot more,” said Teal Bunbury. “We’re just not creating enough. I don’t know if it’s getting in good positions, getting more crosses in – obviously, we just need to take shots, as well.
“But it’s a little more sense of urgency. It’s not maybe being casual and trying to have a million passes before we get a shot. It’s trying to maybe shoot from 25 yards out and seeing if that’ll unlock the defense. We’ve just got to try a bunch of different things.”
Sporting KC are in the midst of a difficult spell, as well – they’ll enter the weekend on a five-game winless run in all competitions (0-3-2) and looking to rebound from a 4-1 loss to San Jose in their last outing.
Peter Vermes has assembled a talented group in Kansas City, however, and Friedel is expecting SKC to come out with a vengeance on Saturday night.
“I expect them to be very high energy because their last performance wasn’t a good one away at San Jose,” said Friedel. “Pete’s done a fantastic job over the years at Sporting Kansas City. You don’t create good teams and a lot of very talented players by having poor performances week in and week out.
“We expect a reaction, and I’m sure they’re going to expect a reaction from us.”
Past Meetings: Revs have won five of last seven regular-season encounters with SKC
New England have had the upper hand over Sporting KC in recent years, winning five of the last seven meetings dating back to the start of the 2014 season. That includes four wins in Foxborough and one at Children’s Mercy Park, albeit back in September 2014.
In fact, home-field advantage has been significant in this series, as the hosts have won the past four meetings, including the Revolution’s 1-0 win over SKC last April at Gillette Stadium.
There is a bit of added intrigue to Saturday night’s encounter as a trio of former Revolution players now roam the field for Sporting KC: Seth Sinovic, Krisztián Németh, and Kelyn Rowe. Nemeth and Rowe were both traded within the past eight months, and they’ll likely have a bit of extra motivation against their former club.
Teal Bunbury, meanwhile, has always enjoyed playing against his former Sporting KC teammates. Since arriving in New England prior to the 2014 season, Bunbury has four goals in six appearances against SKC.
“I love Kansas City. I love their organization, their fans have always been great, my wife’s from there, so it’s nice being able to play in front of family,” Bunbury said. “That aspect will be fun. But the thing that’s on my mind is working my tail off, pushing my team and trying to win the game.”
Injury Report: Revs may look to rotation at end of busy week; SKC trio banged up
For the first time this season Friedel named an unchanged lineup for Wednesday night’s showdown with the Montreal Impact, but as the Revs wrap up a three-games-in-eight-days stretch – and as Friedel looks to elicit a response from his team – it seems likely we’ll see at least one or two changes at the weekend.
“We have eight games in 29 days so we’re definitely going to see some rotation,” said Friedel. “Whether that occurs this weekend or not is yet to be seen, but of course over the next month we’ll have to at some stage.”
While the Revs may need to push through some tired legs at the end of a busy week, they do head to Kansas City near full health. There was some concern for Carles Gil, who suffered a game-high four fouls on Wednesday night against Montreal, but the playmaking midfielder appears to have come through unscathed.
“I think he’s alright,” Friedel said of Gil. “He’s a bit surprised at how he doesn’t get protected. However, when we play other teams, they seem to protect all the other players on the opposition that are good with the ball.”
Sporting KC, meanwhile, recently announced that the trio of Matt Besler, Roger Espinoza, and Rodney Wallace will be sidelined for the immediate future. Besler will miss 2-4 weeks with a hamstring injury, while Espinoza (knee) and Wallace (hip) are both out longer term.
Final Thoughts: Bunbury says Revs “understand the frustration for the fans”
“It’s at a point where enough is enough,” said Bunbury. “We understand the frustration for the fans. Us, as players, we’re out there trying to bust our tails and trying to get points, as well, so for us it’s just as frustrating, or more.
“We understand that it’s a difficult time right now, so we’re not not noticing that, but all we can do is try to improve. That’s it. We can’t sit there and be mad at ourselves. We have to stay positive, because as soon as you start getting negative with each other, then things fall apart even more.”