September 2, 2014
By Adam Burrows
HITTING THEIR STRIDE
Revs hope to extend unbeaten streak against Sporting KC on Wednesday
New England Soccer News Contributor
After arguably their biggest win of the season, a 3-0 dismantling of Toronto FC at BMO Field that elevated them into a three-way tie for third place in the Eastern Conference and resulted in the wholesale sacking of Ryan Nelson and his TFC coaching staff, the New England Revolution (10-12-3, 33 points) return home to Gillette Stadium to start a three-game homestand against defending MLS champions Sporting Kansas City (12-8-6, 42 points) on Wednesday night (CSN, 7:30 p.m. ET).
|“We’re getting good results,” said Revolution forward Teal Bunbury. “But there’re still a lot of games to be played, so we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves.”
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The champions have looked anything but that in their last two outings, back-to-back losses at Sporting Park, 3-0 to conference leaders DC United and 3-1 to struggling Houston Dynamo, and Peter Vermes’ men travel midweek to Foxborough missing two of their top contributors, forward Dom Dwyer, the league’s second-leading scorer, and former Rev Benny Feilhaber, both suspended for accumulated yellow cards.
The Revs, who are unbeaten in their last three contests and their last three home games, will take the turf shorthanded as well, with Scott Caldwell, who has stepped in admirably for the injured Andy Dorman at the holding midfield spot, also suspended for caution accumulation, and fullbacks Chris Tierney and Kevin Alston still sidelined with injuries.
Caldwell’s absence may create space for Jermaine Jones to make his inaugural Revolution start after the US international registered his MLS debut on Saturday, entering in the 65th minute with the damage already done by his new teammates and helping to preserve Bobby Shuttleworth’s seventh shutout of the season.
When the conference rivals last met on April 26th in Foxborough, KC defender Aurelien Collin was sent off for a straight red card in the 74th minute and Teal Bunbury and Lee Nguyen and each scored in stoppage time to give the Revs a 2-0 victory against the ten-man visitors and launch them on a five-game winning streak.
The Revolution’s current resurgence after an epic eight-game losing streak is reminiscent of the 2013 campaign, when the Revs ended the season on a 6-2-3 run to qualify for the post-season for the first time since 2009 before Sporting KC overtook them in the conference semifinals.
“We’re hitting our stride now,” commented former KC forward Teal Bunbury, who scored his third goal of the season Saturday on a lightning second-half counterattack after Daigo Kobayashi closed down Michael Bradley and forced a turnover, one of three Toronto giveaways that led to Revolution strikes.
“We’re getting good results,” continued Bunbury. “But there’re still a lot of games to be played, so we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but we want to build from each result that we have. Obviously the win is huge but I feel like the way everybody played that game, we had the mindset that we were going to defend as a unit. We were in proper positions and tactically we were very sound, and we need to continue to do that the rest of the season to make sure we solidify a spot in the playoffs.”
Staying focused on the here and now will be key for the young Revs.
“We have one game at a time,” emphasized New England head coach Jay Heaps about his Wednesday night opponents, who bring two US World Cup starters of their own in Matt Besler and Graham Zusi. “Anyway you look at at it, you have to be prepared for a Kansas City team that’s going to be difficult to play against.”
As Heaps is well aware, there's a reason why the men in sky blue eliminated his side last November and took home a cup a month later.