FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution defeated Sporting Kansas City 3-1 on Wednesday night, overturning an early deficit behind a first half goal by Teal Bunbury and two second half strikes from Lee Nguyen at Gillette Stadium in front of 11,707 – the second lowest home crowd of the season – in U.S. National Team star Jermaine Jones’ home debut. The win was the Revolution’s third in a row.
Sonny Saad gave Kansas City the lead in just the ninth minute, but Bunbury – with a bit of help from a deflection off a defender – equalized for the Revolution just before halftime. Another impressive shot from distance from Nguyen in the 48th minute gave the Revolution the lead. Nguyen added an insurance goal deep into stoppage time to give the game its final 3-1 margin.
“I thought it was a hard fought match all the way around,” said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps. “I was really pleased with the way we handled the game coming back. Going down a goal on a throw-in – something we worked on – and it was just kind of a fluke goal and just working our way back into the game, never giving up and scoring the goal before half and then coming out with a lot of fire in the second half.”
The win gives the Revolution (11-12-3, 36 points) sole possession of third place in the Eastern Conference. Sporting Kansas City (12-9-6, 42 points) remains in second place in the East.
Heaps made just one change to the line-up that won 3-0 at Toronto FC last weekend, with Jones getting his first start and home debut in place of Scott Caldwell who was suspended due to yellow card accumulation.
“I have to say I’m happy I can come back on the pitch and coach gave me the first 45 minutes,” said Jones. “For the long break, I think [my performance] was OK.”
Kansas City took the lead in just the ninth minute off of a long throw-in. Matt Besler took the throw from deep in Revolution territory and Jermaine Jones attempted to head it away, but only directed it to the back post. The ball fell to Sonny Saad, who lost his marker Bunbury and headed a ball that left Bobby Shuttleworth with no chance.
“That was my bad,” said Bunbury. “I lost my marker. That shouldn’t happen. I just wanted to make it right and start playing well and try to contribute for the team.”
Lee Nguyen had a chance for the Revolution in the 35th minute after a Kelyn Rowe corner was deflected back to him outside the box. Nguyen cut around two defenders and then drilled a low shot towards the far post that Andy Gruenebaum did well to smother with a diving save.
New England got the equalizer just before halftime in the 45th minute after a long pass from Jermaine Jones near midfield found Teal Bunbury on the right flank. Bunbury cut around Seth Sinovic – who claimed a hand ball on the play – and ran into the box before blasting a shot. Bunbury’s effort deflected off Matt Besler and beat Andy Gruenebaum.
“It was an unbelievable ball,” said Bunbury. “He’d actually been talking about it in training that he likes to hit that ball over the top, for me to stay wide. Seth [Sinovic] came out, I got in behind him, wanted to just try to hit it low. It took a deflection and went in.”
“I talked a lot with [Bunbury] to tell him that – in training too – that he has to find that gap behind the people,” said Jones. “He doesn’t have to wait. I play the ball so I have to look that he makes the run first. It was funny that we talked yesterday and before the game and then he scored the goal after that so everything’s perfect.”
Jones, who hasn’t reached full fitness after joining the team last week, was subbed at halftime for rookie Steve Neumann.
Nguyen put the Revolution in the lead in the 48th minute after Rowe got the ball on the left side of the box and played a pass across the top of the box. Nguyen got the ball, cut and took a powerful shot into the upper corner to give the Revolution a 2-1 lead. The goal was Nguyen’s 11th of the season.
Nguyen had a chance to add to the lead in the 56th minute after carrying the ball up from midfield to the top of the box. Nguyen had Bunbury open on the right, but hit a low shot on frame that Gruenebaum managed to tip wide with a diving save.
Substitute Patrick Mullins had a chance for the Revolution in the 87th minute when a Sporting Kansas City defender poorly cleared a long ball with a head. Mullins turned and hit a shot from distance than Gruenebaum could only dive and parry wide for a corner.
Nguyen then clinched the win for the Revolution in the fourth minute of stoppage time when a deflected Patrick Mullins pass fell perfectly for him. Nguyen hit a low shot from just inside the box to make it 3-1 and register his 12th goal of the season.
“I think Lee is showing you what he can do,” said Heaps. “We’ve seen it for a while and you guys see it game in and out, but we see it every day. He’s got the quickest feet in the league and if you give him a little bit of space he can hit a ball as good as anyone.”
The Revolution return to action on Sunday with a home match against the Chicago Fire at 7 p.m.