Preview: Sporting Kansas City begins quest for MLS Cup at Gillette Stadium on Saturday
Sporting Kansas City opens the club's 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs campaign, presented by Ivy Funds, against the New England Revolution in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Saturday. The match, to be played at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., will be the first of a two-legged home-and-away series with the winner determined by aggregate scoring.
Saturday's match will be aired locally on KSMO-TV and nationally on NBC Sports Network. It can also be heard locally in English on Sports Radio 810-WHB and Spanish on La Gran D 1340 AM. The match is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. CT.
Sporting Kansas City earned home-field advantage for the two-game series after finishing the MLS regular season in second place in the Eastern Conference. The New England Revolution finished the year in third place in the East going undefeated in their final five regular season outings which included a 2-2 draw against the Supporters' Shield winners New York Red Bulls.
Sporting Kansas City ended the MLS regular season with the best away record in the League (8-5-4) and the only positive road goal differential in the Eastern Conference (+3). Sporting KC's 17 wins are tied with the Red Bulls for the most wins in MLS in 2013.
Sporting KC and the New England Revolution met twice during the 2013 MLS regular season. The first meeting this year on March 23 concluded in a scoreless draw and marked the last time the two teams played at Gillette Stadium.
Sporting KC earned a 3-0 victory when the clubs met at Sporting Park on August 10. New England's Dimitry Imbongo and Andy Dorman were both ejected in the second half of the match. Imbongo received back-to-back yellow cards to start the second half before Dorman was shown a straight red card in the 86th minute of the match for serious foul play. Imbongo finished the regular season with three red cards, most among MLS players in 2013.
Sporting KC has played the New England Revolution 47 times in club history, boasting a 23-13-11 record over the Revolution all-time. Saturday marks the first meeting between the two sides in the postseason.
The New England Revolution have not appeared in the MLS Cup Playoffs since 2009 when they fell 3-2 to the Chicago Fire in the first round. That same year also marked the last time Sporting KC missed playoff qualification before securing berths in the past four years.
Sporting Park will host the team's official watch party on Saturday in the Boulevard Members Club. Doors will open at 6 p.m. CT and parking is available in Lot D. The watch party will feature food and drink specials including hot dogs, bratwursts, hamburgers and chicken tender combos beginning at $6. The Boulevard Members club will also serve $3 Boulevard KC Pils and Bud Light. All fans in attendance will be entered to win a pair of tickets to the second leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals, to be held at Sporting Park on Wednesday, November 6.