A Sporting Draw

Matt Reis made six saves to get the shutout on Saturday. (Photo: Kari Heistad/CapturedImages.biz)

The New England Revolution overcame a makeshift line-up to put on a decent showing on the road against the Eastern Conference-leading Sporting Kansas City, but couldn’t find the back of the net in settling for scoreless draw on Saturday night at Livestrong Sporting Park.

The scoreless draw saw the Revolution (6-9-5, 23 points) fall to eighth in the East, while Kansas City (11-6-4, 37 points) also fell to second, failing to keep pace with the New York Red Bulls, who beat the Philadelphia Union, 2-0, earlier in the day.

With Clyde Simms a late scratch due to a calf injury, the Revs were left without a key defensive cog in the midfield. Captain Shalrie Joseph’s return from injury provided Simms replacement, while head coach Jay Heaps made several other line-up changes not forced by injury after his team had lost the previous two games.

Striker Saer Sene started the match on the bench for just the second time since making his Revolution debut, while Ryan Guy, a midfielder, started alone at striker in a 4-5-1 formation. Chris Tierney – generally the Revs starting left back – made his first left midfield start of the season, while Darrius Barnes started at left back with Stephen McCarthy making his return from injury and getting the start at center back.

The unconventional line-up seemingly should’ve left the Revs scrambling to find their shape. Surprisingly, the visitors got off to a strong start and had the first decent chance in the fourth minute when a long through ball by Benny Feilhaber found Guy one-on-one with the last defender. Guy opted to shoot from outside the box and his powered effort was pushed wide by Jimmy Nielsen.

Guy came close again in the 15th minute, this time off a corner kick. Lee Nguyen’s cross eluded several Revs, but a diving Guy connected, only to see his shot punched out by Nielsen, though several Revs seemed to claim to no avail that it had already crossed the line.

Jacob Peterson had Kansas City’s first opportunity in the 21st minute. After the Revs failed to deal with a Kansas City cross, the ball fell to Peterson outside the box who volleyed a shot that went just wide of the net and a diving Matt Reis.

The remainder of the first half saw limited chances as both sides entered halftime scoreless.

Kansas City had the Revs on the back foot early after the break and Reis came up huge seven minutes into the second half, denying Peterson to preserve the shutout. Peterson rose up about 12 yards from goal to head a Michael Harrington cross towards the lower corner, but Reis pushed it wide with an impressive diving save.

Looking to turn the tide of the game, the Revs brought on Sene and Fernando Cardenas for Kelyn Rowe and Darrius Barnes in the 58th minute to help spark the attack. The team would later bring on forward Blake Brettschneider for McCarthy with the young defender leaving injured.

The offensive subs still led to few chances, though Sene should’ve done better in the 83rd minute after a Chris Tierney free kick found him at the far post. From close range, Sene badly mishit his shot out for a throw-in.

Kansas City nearly found a winner two minutes into stoppage time when Graham Zusi found Kei Kamara. The Sierra Leone forward directed a header on frame, but Reis was well positioned to make the save.

Reis would later take a knock after being hit by Kamara’s elbow in a late challenge, forcing the keeper to receive treatment for several minutes, but the Revs would hold on for the tie after what ended up as 11 minutes of stoppage time due to the injury.

The Revs return to action on Sunday, July 29, against the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park in Chester, PA. at 7 p.m.

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About Sean Donahue

Sean Donahue has been covering the New England Revolution since 2002 for various publications. He has covered four MLS Cups, in addition to covering various international matches, including World Cup Qualifying and the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He has done freelance work for the AP and ESPN Boston. Sean hosted Revolution Recap, a weekly radio program covering the New England Revolution and U.S. Men's National Team from 2005-2008. He is a member of the North American Soccer Reporters. Sean can be reached at nesoccertoday@gmail.com or followed on twitter @SeanLDonahue