Season Over

Sporting Kansas City ended the New England Revolution’s playoff run on Wednesday night thanks in large part to the contributions of two former Revolution players.  Sporting fought back from a 2-1 aggregate deficit to defeat the Revolution 4-3 thanks to a 3-1 home victory.

Aurelien Collin knotted the aggregate at 2-2 just before halftime, but Dimitry Imbongo put the Revolution back in the lead with a 70th minute goal. Sporting would send the game into overtime with ex-Revolution defender Seth Sinovic’s first professional goal in the 78th minute.  Another ex-Revolution player, Benny Feilhaber, would set up the game winner for Claudio Bieler in overtime in the 113th minute.

Head Coach Jay Heaps kept his lineup unchanged from the team that won 2-1 at Gillette Stadium in the first leg.

Kansas City threatened early after earning a free kick just outside the box. Feilhaber, a former Revolution midfielder, took the set piece and curled a cross to CJ Sapong , who directed a header on frame. Fortunately for the visitors, goalkeeper Matt Reis was well positioned and made the save.

Reis came up huge in the 17th minute to make a diving stop on a powerful close range header by Dominic Dwyer off a Seth Sinovic cross. Dwyer’s well placed shot looked headed for the back of the net before Reis came up big to make the save.

Sporting continued to have the better of the play in the first half and it took another save from Reis to deny a Sapong header off a corner kick in the 33rd minute.

The pressure finally paid off in the 41st minute after the Revolution failed to clear a long free kick. The ball deflected off Andrew Farrell to Aurélien Collin, who turned and fired past Reis from close range to take a 1-0 lead in the game and knot the aggregate at 2-2.

With the Revolution overrun in the first half, Heaps opted to make a change at the break, bringing on rookie Scott Caldwell for veteran Andy Dorman. New England had just 28.4% possession and completed just 59% of their passes in the first half.

The home side nearly scored a second under a minute into the first half after some nice work from Graham Zusi set up Dwyer for a shot just inside the box, but Reis was able to make the save.

Reis then came up huge again for the Revolution in the 55th minute stopping both Dwyer and Feilhaber from close range in quick succession to keep the series tied on aggregate.

Against the run of play, New England would equalize and take the aggregate lead in the 70th minute after Agudelo was fouled trying to get to a loose ball down the right flank. Kelyn Rowe stepped up and delivered a perfect cross into the box where Dimitry Imbongo volleyed past Jimmy Nielsen for his first ever playoff goal.

But the advantage was short lived as Sporting would take back the lead in the 78th minute. Zusi found Seth Sinovic – a former Revolution defender – making a run into the left side of the box, and the left back blasted a shot past Reis to the far post for his first ever professional goal, giving Kansas City a 2-1 lead in the match and knotting it at 3-3 on aggregate.

Diego Fagundez had a late chance for New England in the 85th minute after being played into space on the left flank. Fagundez charged forward into the box and attempted a shot from just outside the box. His effort beat Nielsen, but clipped the top of the bar and went out.

Sporting nearly found the winner in the third and final minute of stoppage time, but Paulo Nagamura sent a shot in space from the top of the box just wide, sending the match into overtime.

Sporting had the better of the chances in overtime, but Agudelo had perhaps the best opportunity of the extra periods in the 109th minute. The 20-year-old Colombian took a touch to beat his defender and ran in on goal. One-on-one with the keeper, Agudelo tried to beat the onrushing Nielsen, but Nielsen managed to make the save.

But substitute Claudio Bieler would score the game winner in the 113th. Feilhaber picked off a throw from Reis and ran down the right flank before sending a low cross through the box that Bieler finished off to give Sporting the 3-1 lead and 4-3 lead on aggregate.

Things just got worse for the Revolution as Reis went down injured late and the visitors were forced to play down a man and stick rookie defender Andrew Farrell in goal.

Sporting Kansas City easily held on to advance to the Eastern Conference Final where they will face the Houston Dynamo.

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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