Monday, September 29, 2014

Sporting KC falls 3-2 to New England Revolution

Sporting Kansas City were beaten 3-2 by the New England Revolution at Sporting Park on Friday. Dom Dwyer extended his single-season club record with his 20th goal of the season, while Paulo Nagamura added a goal and an assist in the defeat.

The visiting Revolution opened a 2-0 lead in the first half with goals from Kelyn Rowe and Jose Goncalves before Sporting KC struck twice in two minutes to pull level in the 56th minute. However, U.S. Men's National Team  midfielder Jermaine Jones struck for the game-winning goal in the 85th minute with his first MLS goal since being acquired by New England in August.

Sporting KC has now suffered three consecutive home MLS losses for only the second time in club history, conceding three goals in each. The Revolution won in Kansas City for the first time since 2008 and swept the season series for only the second time in 19 years.

The reigning MLS Cup champions, who ended the Revolution's season in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the previous meeting at Sporting Park, began the match on the front foot. Dwyer's free kick from 30 yards out curled just wide of the far post in the fourth minute. Nine minutes later, Benny Feilhaber saw Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth off his line and let loose a dipping effort that carried narrowly over the crossbar from well outside the penalty area.

Nevertheless, it was the Revolution who found the back of the net first. Alston began the play with a throw-in on the right flank and received the ball back from Teal Bunbury before sending a cross to the back post that found Rowe for a first-time finish with his left foot. The third-year forward now has four goals on the season and 15 in his MLS career (including postseason), while Alston has multiple assists for the first time in his six seasons with New England.

New England's lead doubled in the 35th minute on an individual effort from Goncalves. The reigning MLS Defender of the Year won the ball in his own end and dribbled 60 yards prior to placing a left-footed shot from 20 yards out inside the far post for his first goal of the season.

Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Eric Kronberg made two saves on the night in his first MLS match since July 6. The first came in the 40th minute to stop Chris Tierney's free kick from the middle of the park and the second save was recorded in the 70th minute to deny Lee Nguyen from long range.

Trailing by two goals to start the second half and playing without both Aurelien Collin (injury) and Lawrence Olum (suspension), Sporting Kansas City rallied to draw level by putting a pair of shots past Shuttleworth in short succession. Nagamura started the comeback with a composed strike in the 54th minute after receiving a penetrating pass from Kevin Ellis that split both Revolution defenders on the right flank. Nagamura took one touch and lifted his shot over Shuttleworth for the 12th goal of his MLS career and second of the season.

Less than two minutes later, Nagamura proved pivotal again on the game-tying goal. The Brazilian looped his header toward the back post on a service from Antonio Dovale, setting up Dwyer to push the ball across the goalline with a header inside the goalmouth. Dwyer now has 20 goals in 2014, second most in Major League Soccer behind Bradley Wright-Phillips (24).

As a result of the second half goals, Sporting KC supporters can receive a buy one, get one snack size wings coupon to be redeemed at area Buffalo Wild Wings locations by texting BWWSKC to 72727. Additionally, Sporting Kansas City supporters can take advantage of 44-cent Monster Tacos at area Jack in the Box locations on Saturday thanks to the team's four shots on goal.

With the momentum and a sellout crowd of more than 19,500 fans in attendance, Sporting Kansas City saw a spree of scoring opportunities come up short in the ensuing minutes. Graham Zusi's well-struck shot was spilled by Shuttleworth in the 63rd minute only to see Dwyer ruled offside in the scramble for the rebound.

Nagamura nearly netted his second of the match with a volley four minutes later that was punched away to safety by Shuttleworth. The sixth-year goalkeeper was called into action less than a minute later for his fourth save of the match as Igor Juliao put a first-time shot through traffic and on target.

The Revolution did well to weather the burst and then claimed all three points with Jones' game-winner coming five minutes from full time. Given space, the World Cup veteran delivered the dagger from distance on a shot from 25 yards out that was beyond the reach of Kronberg.

Sporting Kansas City and New England are now tied for second place in the Eastern Conference with four games remaining in the regular season. Sporting KC will return to the road to take on D.C. United, who currently lead the East by three points, next Friday at RFK Stadium.

The match will be nationally televised on NBCSN and the team's official watch parties will be held at the Johnny's Tavern locations at the KC Power & Light District (1310 Grand Blvd.) and in Overland Park (8719 W. 95th St.).