Despite being outplayed from a statistical standpoint, the New England Revolution scored two opportunistic goals, played tough defense, and beat Sporting Kansas City (probably the better team) 2-1. They have been playing this way for the most part in the past 4 games, all wins. Team depth and a very healthy team spirit have taken them a long way. The Revs proved this Saturday by finding a way to win despite coming in second in all ways except goal total.
The first half went well for Kansas City. They created three excellent scoring chances to none for the Revs and essentially controlled the game. In the second half, the tide turned, with the visitors playing sloppily for the first 25 minutes. The only thing that got them going was the Revs’ second goal in the 67th minute. KC scored two minutes later and continued playing well for the rest of the half, as did the Revs. The second half was played like a true knockout game. It was basically a war, with the ref handing out yellow card after yellow card. The fact that the Revs held on to win is a real tribute to them.
It may seem like an ancillary thing to complain about, but I was distressed to see that the field was cluttered with football markings and was about ten yards shorter than normal. Add these what’s-soccer-compared-to-football factors to the given that the artificial Gillette surface is hard as a rock (even in comparison to other turf fields, like Seattle’s), and the field conditions made it very difficult for both teams to play attractive soccer. The ball bounced when it would have rolled on natural grass and ping-ponged senselessly from one team to another, both causing and explaining half-time successful-passing statistics of 74% for KC and 64% for the Revs – embarrassingly low for two professional teams.
On the other hand, these adverse conditions served as an equalizing factor that probably helped the Revs. Bad field conditions and bad weather always favor the unfavored team, as they did when these two teams first met in the spring under near-gale conditions.
The Revs continue to shoot poorly from distance. What Rev player scares opposing keepers with his ability to shoot the ball from outside the penalty area? I would say none, not because of a lack of talent but because of a lack of technical know-how. Graham Zusi’s shot for KC in the 23rd minute – US national team player, or not – was no gem either. To me, this is an indication of a league-wide deficiency.
Guilty party for Kansas City? Seth Sinovic, for allowing Diego Fagundez a free run and cross before the Revs’ first goal and for “marking” Kelyn Rowe upfield and to the outside of the goal before the run he scored on.
Should be a great game Wednesday. I know the whole Rev organization is looking forward to it.