August 4, 2012
By Adam Burrows
Revolution outmuscled by Sporting KC
New England Soccer News Contributor
FOXBOROUGH, Mass.--It didn’t take long for the New England Revolution to learn what life would be like without Shalrie Joseph.
|In the wake of Shalrie Joseph’s departure, Clyde Simms donned the captain’s armband for the Revs against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Three days after the team traded its veteran captain and rugged midfield commander to Chivas USA, the Revolution were manhandled by a physical Sporting Kansas City side, losing 1-0 at home to stretch their winless streak to five games and send them twelve points beyond playoff reach.
Kansas City’s Teal Bunbury alertly capitalized on a poor connection between Clyde Simms and Stephen McCarthy in the 20th minute, after Benny Feilhaber was unable to handle a difficult Flo Lechner throw-in.
Sporting’s athletic third-year striker pounced on the loose ball in full stride and after a couple of touches calmly pushed the breakaway opportunity inside the far post for the game’s only score.
“It was a poor throw-in to a poor touch to a poor pass to a poor defensive play to nothing Matt Reis could do” was the play-by-play offered by an unusually terse Jay Heaps after the game.
“It was just one of those plays where it was a bad decision to where the throw-in was made, to where it went, and unfortunately we’ve been punished all year for our mistakes and that’s exactly what happened tonight.”
The Revolution head coach reserved his most seething commentary for the combative style of the visitors and for the officiating that allowed it.
“They had 21 fouls; we had 12. They had two yellow cards; we had two yellow cards,” complained Heaps. “So I felt like every time we got around the ball there was a foul. It was just a disruptive game all the way around.”
Heaps also provided an explanation for why Lee Nguyen, who has been a key figure in the Revolution attack this season, was unable to influence the game.
“Every time he got the ball tonight he was fouled,” observed Heaps. “Simple.”
“We’re one of the most-fouled teams in the league and playing against the team that fouls the most,” Heaps continued. “And the referee allowed it. Simple as that. It’s a little bizarre. For me it’s bizarre that I come in here and both teams have two yellow cards and it was 21 to 12 in fouls. I find it extremely bizarre.”
Revolution left back Chris Tierney, who had a solid if unspectacular game, acknowledged the success of the game plan laid out by Sporting KC Head Coach Peter Vermes.
“Their game plan, for sure, was to disrupt the play,” admitted Tierney. “I think if you look at fouls, there were a lot. They were clearly trying to slow our play through the midfield and break things up and they did a good job of that. And that’s a road tactic and a tactic that teams have used against us all year. We’ve got to be better at breaking pressure and playing through it.”
Vermes was able to execute the game plan despite missing two of the team’s most aggressive players.
Midfield workhorse Roger Espinoza, arguably Kansas City’s most valuable and disruptive player, has been on Olympic duty for the underdog darling Honduran team, while central defender Aurelien Collin was sidelined with facial fractures sustained in the MLS All-Star game.
Clyde Simms, who was awarded the captain’s armband for New England and was left to patrol the defensive end of the midfield on his own, also gave grudging credit to the victors.
“They're a big physical team and that's the way they play every single game. They commit a lot of numbers forward and that's part of their philosophy. They have to foul in certain spots because they have so many guys forward and they're susceptible to the counter. That’s the way they play. They recruit big guys - big physical guys - and that’s the way they play.”
“I think the way we try to play is to keep the ball on the ground and keep it moving," continued Simms, describing the Revolution answer. "We don’t have a huge team, especially in the midfield, so that’s the way we try to play, and we think we’re good at that. Unfortunately, we weren’t as good with the ball tonight.”
What neither Heaps, Tierney nor Simms was willing to say out loud was that the one person who might have been capable of responding to the physical challenge and regaining control of the midfield had been given an unexpected week off before he plays in his first SuperClasico at the Home Depot Center next Sunday night.