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It was over almost before it started. Just fourteen minutes into the game the New England Revolution found themselves down a man on the road against the top team in the East, Sporting Kansas City. At that point, the 3-0 loss that would be the end result seemed almost an inevitability.

The game changing moment came less than a quarter of an hour into the match when Kansas City’s C.J. Sapong used his speed to get into a one-on-one situation with Stephen McCarthy, a center midfielder who has been converted to a center back this season. McCarthy used his strength to try to cope with Sapong’s superior speed and was called for the foul and – perhaps harshly – issued a red card.

“It’s really disappointing,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “We had a good game plan going into the game and we had good chances in the beginning. We weren’t giving anything away, we were tight, we had a nice compact form and we thought we had a plan. Then there was the red card and they scored early on. It’s tough playing a man down.”

That ejection brought an end to any hope the Revs had of an improved performance over an opening day loss in Kansas City. With Saer Sene making his debut, Chris Tierney making his return from suspension and Lee Nguyen making his first start after impressing off the bench last weekend, the hope was there for the Revs to put in a better performance.

The visitors almost grabbed the lead early in the 5th minute when Tierney made a run down the left flank. The Wellesley, Mass. native sent a low cross into the box that was cleared out, but only as far as Benny Feilhaber. Feilhaber attempted a quick low shot, but it was just wide of the net.

But the Revs defense started showing cracks in the ninth minute when goalkeeper Matt Reis almost got caught out of his net. Trying to clean up for his back line, Reis aggressively came out of his box to tackle the ball away from Sapong. Reis got the ball away, but it fell to Roger Espinoza who launched a shot over the Revs ‘keeper only to see it denied by the post.

McCarthy’s red in the 14th minute would assure the Revs were on the back foot for the majority of the rest of the match.

Sporting would make the most of their man advantage and grab the lead in the 28th minute through Graham Zusi. Zusi got on the end of a cross from Kei Kamara and saw his close range shot saved by Reis, but was able to put in his own rebound to open the scoring as KC took a 1-0 lead.

Kansas City nearly doubled their lead in the 32nd minute when Sapong stole the ball from Shalrie Joseph and dribbled in on goal with AJ Soares close behind. Sapong blasted a shot on frame, but it was right at Reis, who made the save.

In the 39th minute, KC would get a second goal through Kei Kamara. Former Rev Seth Sinovic sent a cross into the box that Reis couldn’t handle. Reis’ punch fell to Kamara who took a quick shot. Reis made the save, but his defense was caught flatfooted, allowing Kamara to blast in his own rebound.

Two minutes into the second half Sapong assured the home fans would be going home happy. The 23-year-old striker was the beneficiary of a great pass from Sinovic, who had broken free in the box and dribbled to the end line. From close range, Sapong slotted it into the net.

From there, Kansas City appeared to take their foot off the gas a bit, comfortable with their three goal advantage. The Revs managed a few late chances with a powerful header from substitute Ryan Guy off a Diego Fagundez cross denied by goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen in the 75th minute.

Sporting had two late chances to add a fourth with Reis making a great save to deny a powerful Kamara header in the 83rd minute. Two minutes later Reis came off his line on a Sapong break-away and the young striker sent his shot wide.

Clyde Simms had a chance to grab a last minute consolation goal for the Revs, but his effort after some nice work by Nguyen was poor and easily saved by Nielsen.

“We have to leave this game here,” said Simms. “We were unfortunate to get a red card so early on against a very good team at their home. We will use this game as fitness really. The younger guys just need to know that it’s a very long season. When I played for D.C. United we went 0-3 and then went on to win the Supporter’s Shield. There’s a lot of season left to play. We have to regroup but we are headed home now.”

The Revs return to action still seeking their first win of the season on Saturday, March 21st in their home opener against the Portland Timbers.

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