On Monday, FutbolMLS.com opened their voting for the annual Latino del Año award, given to the best Latin American player in MLS.
Sporting KC's Claudio Bieler is the lone KC-nominee on the list. "El Taca" is in Group F along with Seattle Sounders midfieler Osvaldo Alonso, FC Dallas defender Michel and Colorado Rapids midfielder Hendry Thomas.
In his first year in KC, the Argentine forward tallied 10 goals and four assists. The Sporting KC Golden Boot winner, Bieler became the first DP in club history to score 10 or more goals in a season.
Go in-depth behind Sporting Kansas City's 2-1 loss against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on Saturday with the match's fast facts:
- Sporting Kansas City lost 2-1 to the New England Revolution in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals at Gillette Stadium on Saturday.
- Sporting KC and the New England Revolution met twice during the 2013 MLS regular season. In the first meeting, the teams played a scoreless draw at Gillette Stadium, marking the last matchup between the Eastern Conference opponents in Foxboro heading into Saturday.
- Sporting KC earned a 3-0 victory over the Revolution at Sporting Park on August 10.
- With the loss, Sporting KC moves to 6-6-5 when tied at the half. The New England Revolution are 5-6-7 when tied at the half.
- New England was 8-5-4 at Gillette Stadium during the MLS regular season. Sporting KC finished the regular season with an identical road record, best in MLS.
- Sporting KC is 23-14-11 all-time against the New England Revolution in MLS competitions.
- Saturday marked the first time that Sporting KC and New England have met in the MLS playoffs.
- Saturday marked the Revolution's first postseason appearance since 2009.
- New England scored the first two goals in the 55th and 67th minutes of Saturday's match.
- Aurelien Collin cut New England's lead in half in the 69th minute of the match, his second playoff goal since joining Sporting KC, moving Collin into a tie with Teal Bunbury, Miklos Molnar and Davy Arnaud on Sporting KC's all-time chart for most goals scored during the postseason.
- Collin's goal was the 50th goal scored by Kansas City during postseason all-time. Twelve of those goals have come during the 61-75 minute interval.
- Sporting KC has conceded 52 goals during the postseason.
- C.J. Sapong and Chance Myers each earned an assist on Collin's goal.
- The assist is Sapong's third of 2013 and first during postseason competition.
- The assist is Myers fourth in 2013 and first during postseason competition.
- Sporting KC has won MLS Cup once (2000) in 11 playoff appearances. New England has yet to win MLS Cup in 10 postseason trips.
- Prior to Saturday, Sporting KC had held the New England Revolution scoreless for five straight games. Andy Dorman's 55th minute goal on Saturday ended a 556-minute scoreless streak for New England in matches against Kansas City.
- There were seven yellow cards issued on Saturday, four shown to Revolution players and three to Sporting Kansas City.
- Matt Reis had a 7-0-4 record in the 2013 regular season, first keeper in MLS history to go a year undefeated with at least 10 games played. Reis moves to 8-0-4 on the year in all-competition, remaining undefeated in 2013 with Saturday's victory.
- The loss snaps a six-game unbeaten streak for Sporting KC against the New England Revolution.
- Saturday marked the 50th all-time meeting between Sporting Kansas City and the New England Revolution.
- Sporting Kansas City outshot New England 13-8 on Saturday.
- Chance Myers had four shots on Saturday marking a career high and most shots among all players on the field.
- Teal Bunbury completed 93.1% of passes on Saturday, most among all players with more then one pass during the game.
- Matt Besler had 86 touches on Saturday, most among all players.
- Sporting Kansas City has never won a playoff game when allowing the first goal (0-12-1).
- Sporting KC is 6-9-0 in one-goal games during MLS Cup playoffs.
- Sporting KC will host New England in the second leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Wednesday night at Sporting Park at 8 p.m. CT.
Sporting Kansas City suffered a 2-1 loss to the New England Revolution on Saturday night in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. New England took a 2-0 lead in the second half but Sporting KC rallied to pull one back before the final whistle. The two teams will meet on Wednesday night at Sporting Park for the second leg.
Man of the Match
Aurelien Collin was a physical presence throughout the match and scored a crucial second half goal. The Frenchman won six of seven aerial duels (85.7%), had six interceptions, and made 15 clearances. Collin scored three goals in the 2013 regular season and Saturday's was his first ever in postseason play.
Collin's 69th minute goal provided a much needed lift to Sporting KC only minutes after New England had extended their lead. It turned the momentum and Sporting KC were the more dangerous side for the remaining 20 minutes of the match. Heading back to Sporting Park, Sporting KC will need at least a win to advance and a two goal margin to avoid penalty kicks.
A few stats
- Graham Zusi led all players with three chances created
- Matt Besler led all players with eight interceptions
- Sporting KC had 62% of possession, their second most for an away MLS match this season
- Teal Bunbury completed 27 of 29 passes (93.1%)
For this week's Prep Talk, I spoke with New England Revolution beat writer Kyle McCarthy.
How has the Revolution played in recent weeks and what's their form heading into the first leg vs Sporting KC?
"New England is confident heading into this first leg against Sporting Kansas City. They ended the season very well, unbeaten in their final six games, and they were really able to cobble together performances to grab a playoff berth. That being said, they also understand the task at hand against Sporting KC will be a difficult one."
How do you expect the Revolution to approach the match on Saturday?
"I think the key word is balance. New England has not scored against Kansas City in 501 regular season minutes. That's a long time to go without scoring against a team. I think first and foremost the Revs have to make sure they find a way to get a goal at Gillette Stadium on Saturday. In trying to break that drought, they must also be careful defensively that they don't leave gaps. Sporting KC is a dangerous team on the road because they thrive when teams don't sit back and invite them to press forward. If the Revs are going to go in search of goals, they must do so prudently. If they can keep the right balance, they'll be in good shape but if they push forward a little bit too earnestly, the game could become a little bit dangerous for them."
What are your thoughts on Sporting KC and how this team compares to the last few seasons?
"I think it's a similar sort from Sporting KC with a little bit different personnel. The loss of Kei Kamara to Middlesbrough during the summer obviously had an impact on how this team performed. I think the injury concern with Claudio Bieler has had effect on things as well. This is a talented team, a deep team, and a team that's capable cobbling together a deep postseason run. It's just a matter of producing goals at the right time while also retaining that defensive shape. If either of those factors get a little bit out of balance, it becomes difficult but Sporting KC are a team that's fully capable of mounting a deep run in the postseason."
What are you expecting to see from Saturday's match?
"I'm expecting Sporting KC to come out with it's usual high pressure in it's 4-3-3 setup and really try and make the Revs uncomfortable on home soil. New England will try and get the ball down a little bit, try and break through that first line of pressure and avoid getting fouled as they try and transition through midfield. The Revs are going to try and establish themselves a bit with possession to break down that defiant Sporting KC defense. It will be interesting to see how the balance of the match unfolds because New England's going to want to get a goal or two to bring to Sporting Park and Sporting KC will try and make sure that they nick a goal or two to provide themselves a little bit of cover heading home. I think there's an interesting dynamic in play heading into this first leg. I think the team that executes best will find a way to get the valuable result."
Sporting KC forward Dom Dwyer's season has been well-chronicled. The English born striker scored a record number of goals for Orlando City SC during his 2013 loan spell, came back to Sporting KC toward the end of June and returned to Florida to bag four additional goals for Orlando City in the USL Pro championship match.
But how much do you really know about the young striker?
On Thursday, Major League Soccer released the latest edition of their digital magazine Overlap. It's a must-download for all fans, but Sporting KC fans, in particular, will want to download this edition. It features an excellent read from author Michael Manganello and some of the hurdles he has had to overcome to reach this point in his career.
Overlap is available on iOS and Android devices. Click here for more information.
Sporting Kansas City faces the New England Revolution in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Saturday night. The two teams finished second and third in the Eastern Conference and will conclude the series with the second leg at Sporting Park on Wednesday.
New England have six players either listed as out or questionable for Saturday's match. Gabe Latique, Saer Sene, and Juan Toja are all unavailable due to injuries while Chirs Tierney, Jose Goncalves, and Kevin Alston are listed as questionable. The main concern for New England is starting central defender Goncalves, who hasn't missed a single minute during the regular season. Outside of those injuries, New England is expected to field a strong lineup with a core of young players that include Juan Agudelo, Diego Fagundez, Kelyn Rowe, and Lee Nguyen.
The Revolution are one of the hottest teams in MLS as they are unbeaten in their last six matches. New England concluded the regular season with three straight victories to finish third in the Eastern Conference and reach the playoffs for the first time since 2009. The two teams have never met in the postseason but Sporting KC currently have a five match unbeaten streak which includes a shutout streak over 500 minutes against New England.
Juan Agudelo (Forward) - A talented striker who scored the Revolution's game-winning goal at Columbus last weekend
Diego Fagundez (Forward) - A homegrown player who leads New England with 13 goals this season
|vs Columbus (3-2 win)||at Columbus (1-0 win|
Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes joined MLSsoccer.com's ExtraTime Radio on Thursday afternoon. Vermes discussed the MLS Supporters' Shield race, the importance of experience in the playoffs and the playoff format, among other things. Read excerpts from the interview or listen to the full audio below.
On the Supporters' Shield race
"The last three years, we have been at the top of the table. It's something that we covet, trying to win the Supporters' Shield and being one of the most consistent teams in Major League Soccer over the course of a 34-game season. [Not winning the Shield] was unfortunate, but another very good season from our perspective."
On playoff experience
"Experience is very important and it gives you an udnerstanding about what is important over the course of a playoff run. But at the same time, you can't underestimate ambition in a team. New England is a team that hasn't been in the playoffs for a while, but they are a group that's become very ambitious and they want to find success. You can't underestimate any opponent you play and you can't take anyone for granted."
On the higher seed going on the road first
"It's only a disadvantage if you don't get a result. The way I see the process, in the home-and-home, it doesn't really afford you much benefit being the higher seed. But you still need to find a way to get two good results in both games."
On the impact of Kei Kamara's departure
"First off, the team is not the same team from a year ago. We lost Roger Espinoza, Kei Kamara and Julio Cesar. We have played without [Paulo] Nagamura for almost the entire season due to injury. So I think it's also a complete lack of respect to the current guys that are one point away from the Supporters' Shield."
Sporting KC will begin their playoff campaign, presented by Ivy Funds, on Saturday when they take on the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. Sporting KC will then close the Eastern Conference Semifinal series on Wednesday at Sporting Park. Limited tickets are available and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com.
Sporting Kansas City travels to face the New England Revolution on Saturday night in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The two teams feature some of the top rising stars in MLS in Sporting KC's Soony Saad, Uri Rosell, and Dom Dwyer alongside New England's Diego Fagundez, Kelyn Rowe, and Juan Agudelo. What will be the important matchups and factors for Saturday's match?
Check out the video below as MLSsoccer.com's Matt Doyle and Dan Haiek break it down.