Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sporting KC falls 3-1 at New England

KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- Sporting Kansas City fell 3-1 against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday night.

Soony Saad opened the scoring in the ninth minute however the Revolution responded with an equalizer from Teal Bunbury on the stroke of halftime and two second half goals from Lee Nguyen.

Sporting Kansas City remains in second place in the Eastern Conference, six points clear of the third place Revolution, despite suffering the team's third straight defeat and second of the season against New England. The team's last three-game losing streak came in May 2012 after opening that campaign with seven straight victories.

Saad struck first for Sporting KC, opening the scoring in the game's ninth minute off a throw-in from captain Matt Besler.

The throw skipped off the head of Jermaine Jones and was met at the back post by Saad with a header from inside the six-yard box.

The goal -- Saad's third of the season in MLS play and fifth in all competition in 2014 -- was the fourth scored by Sporting KC directly off a throw-in during the regular season. After appearing in only three of the team's first 12 MLS matches this year, Saad has logged minutes in each of the past 15 league games and now has eight goals in his MLS career.

Sinovic, who began his MLS career with New England and scored the series-tying goal against the Revolution in the 2013 Eastern Conference Semifinals, came close to doubling the visitors advantage in the 16th minute. The left back beat two Revolution defenders and sent his right-footed shot on target, forcing a save from Bobby Shuttleworth.

In his first game back since suffering a shoulder injury on Aug. 10, Sporting KC goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum made four saves on Wednesday. The Overland Park, Kansas native dove low  to his right to smother Nguyen's attempt from the edge of the penalty area in the 35th minute.

Gruenebaum was helpless to keep out Bunbury's equalizer in the 45th minute following a fortuitous deflection off Besler. Acquired from Sporting KC prior to the start of the 2014 season, Bunbury has four goals this year with two coming against his former club.

Jones, making his first MLS start and his home debut, earned the assist on Bunbury's game-tying goal. The U.S. Men's National Team midfielder was replaced at halftime after having played a part in both of the first half goals.

New England's momentum carried through the halftime intermission as Nguyen scored the game-winning goal two minutes into the second half.

Nguyen started the scoring sequence by dispossessing Jorge Claros in midfield and did well to finish moments later with a curling shot from just outside the 18-yard box.

Kelyn Rowe earned his team-leading fifth assist of the season on the goal and now has 18 in his three-year professional career. The goal marked Nguyen's third straight match on the scoresheet and gave Rowe assists in each of New England's last three games.

Nguyen would eventually cap the performance with his second of the night coming four minutes into second half stoppage time.

The two-way midfielder once again created his own opportunity by blocking a clearance attempt from Lawrence Olum and checking wide before burying a first-time half-volley inside the far post.

Rookie Patrick Mullins earned his first career assist on the play and Nguyen now has 12 goals on the season, most on the team. The brace was the third of his MLS career and gives him 21 goals in three seasons with the Revolution.

Nguyen led all players with six shots in Wednesday's match and nearly netted in the 55th minute if not for a strong stop from Gruenebaum on a drive from distance.

The Sporting KC goalkeeper was also called into action at the 86-minute mark on a long-range attempt from Mullins that was pushed away with a sprawling save.

Sporting Kansas City's best scoring opportunity of the second half came in the 58th minute via a set piece from 35 yards out. Graham Zusi rolled the ball to his right for a powerful shot from Saad that worked its way through the wall and skimmed inches wide of the post.

Wednesday's loss was Sporting Kansas City's first when scoring the game's opening goal in 2014, snapping a 16-game unbeaten streak this season when taking a 1-0 lead, and came without four of the team's five most regularly used players.

Dom Dwyer, who leads the team with 17 goals this year, and Benny Feilhaber, who leads the team with six assists, each missed the match due to caution accumulation while Jacob Peterson (injury) and Aurelien Collin (unused sub) were also sidelined.

Sporting Kansas City will remain on the road for a date with the New York Red Bulls at 6:30 p.m. CT on Saturday at Red Bull Arena.

The match will be nationally televised on NBCSN and the team's official watch parties will be held at the Johnny's Tavern locations in the KC Power & Light District (1510 Grand Blvd.) and in Overland Park (6765 W. 119th St.).