New England Soccer Today

Five Questions: Revolution at Sporting K.C.

A week after falling 1-0 to San Jose, the rebuilding Revolution will face a stiff challenge in Saturday’s match at Sporting K.C. – the same Sporting K.C. that many are projecting to capture the Eastern Conference crown. On paper, it’s a classic early-season mismatch.

But that doesn’t mean the Revolution can’t steal a point – or three – from Peter Vermes’ team. Lest we forget, this Sporting K.C. side is nearly identical to the one the Revolution came within minutes of sweeping last season.

Here are five questions to ponder before the Revolution step onto the pitch at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.

How does a Jay Heaps-led team respond from a loss? After running off a 6-0-1 preseason record, the Revolution suffered their first taste of defeat under Jay Heaps last week. Can the first-year head coach keep his players motivated and hungry a week later? Or will we see inklings of last year’s downtrodden squad – a squad that seemed to throw its hands up at the first sign of trouble? Matched up against Sporting K.C. on the road, there’s no doubt that the Revolution will get their first gut check of the regular season. And how well they perform – win, lose or draw – will be worth keeping an eye on.

Can the Revolution contain the Sporting K.C. attack? Although the form of the back four may dictate how well (or how poorly) they stifle the K.C. attack, the midfield is going to be relied upon heavily to alleviate the pressure put on the defending third. And they’ll have to. K.C. is a team that thrives on its opponents’ mistakes, and all it may only take one crucial error to open the floodgates against a maturing Revolution XI. Therefore, the Revolution will have to tighten the screws, especially off the ball, lest they find themselves falling into a deficit they can’t climb out of.

Which player can the Revolution not afford to ignore? The easy answer may be Teal Bunbury, but even if he wasn’t on U.S. Olympic team duty, Kei Kamara is a player that the Revolution has struggled to smother over the years. The 6-2 striker has pace, strength and enough aerial presence to give an opponent a migraine well before the match. Can you say “multi-dimensional threat?” Although the Revolution should obviously remain mindful of C.J. Sapong, Bobby Convey and Graham Zusi, shutting down Kamara from the opening whistle may hold the key to squeezing a measure of success when it’s all said and done.

Will we see more of Lee Nguyen? Last week, the 25-year-old midfielder/forward became the turbo shot that the Revolution were in dire need of. Coming into the game to replace Fernando Cardenas, Nguyen made nice runs in the attacking third and linked well with the midfield. But did the late-game sub do enough to earn a longer look? After Wednesday’s practice, Jay Heaps wouldn’t say whether Nguyen will factor into Saturday’s game, but don’t think that Nguyen won’t be called upon if New England’s attack starts to sputter around the hour mark. Look for Nguyen to be given much more of an opportunity to make his mark on Saturday’s match.

Which version of Shalrie Joseph will show up? In his first game with the Designated Player label, the experienced skipper looked more like a first-day freshman. Whether it was the deadly giveaway that led to San Jose’s goal, or the Marvin Chavez heist in the shadow of the New England net, Joseph put together a largely forgettable performance last week. Making matters worse, Joseph had to sit out practice on Wednesday with illness – which probably won’t stop him from playing, but certainly won’t help his performance. Fully healthy or not, he’ll need to step up his effort and execution on Saturday to give his club a chance. Otherwise, New England may be staring at another attacking shutout.


  1. Chris B

    March 17, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    I don’t think Teal is playing, he’s with the Olympic team I believe. We will HAVE to beware of CJ Sapong and Dom Dwyer if he plays!

    Another important question is if Sene will start or even play and if so, how will SKC’s defense handle him?

  2. Brian O'Connell

    March 17, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    You’re absolutely right, Chris – Teal’s out due to Olympic team commitments. Good catch. So the Revs will most definitely need to keep an eye on Sapong and maybe even Dwyer late.

    I don’t think Sene’s healthy enough to get the start, but we may see him come on late. For what it’s worth, he practiced during the first hour of Wednesday’s training, but wasn’t present for the 11 v. 11 scrimmage later on.

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