With Sporting KC hitting the road to take on Eastern Conference opponents New England tonight, I caught up with FoxSports.com MLS editor and Revolution beat writer Kyle McCarthy, to preview the match. The match will kick off at 6:30 p.m. CT on Friday with live coverage available on KMCI (38 The Spot), SKCTV, ESPN 1510, and La Gran D 1340 AM.
Jonathon Feyerherm: What is the Revolution’s form heading into this midweek match?
Kyle McCarthy: The past couple of matches have slid the Revs' season back on track and underscored the potential within the ranks. The narrow home victory over Chivas USA offered a vital boost, but the impressive display at Toronto FC on Saturday could serve as the perfect platform for this side as the playoff chase intensifies.
JF: What’s been the key to the team’s recent success?
KM: When the Revs are hitting top form, they do two things particularly well: They keep a good defensive shape and they string together quick, incisive sequences to exploit the opposition. Both of those characteristics appeared in the victory at BMO Field on Wednesday."
JF: Jermaine Jones recently signed with the Revolution and made his debut on the weekend at Toronto FC. What role do you expect him to play in Wednesday’s match?
KM: The extent of Jones' participation will hinge on how coach Jay Heaps wants to replace the suspended Scott Caldwell. Heaps doesn't have a surplus of options in the holding role -- Andy Dorman is still recovering from a knee injury -- to fill the void. If he is comfortable with shuffling his defense and sliding A.J. Soares back into midfield (he has played there twice this season), then Jones might continue his gradual progression with another second-half substitute appearance. If the Revs think Jones is capable of playing for a longer period, then Heaps might try him from the start and see how things proceed. Heaps usually adopts a prudent approach with player fitness. It might prove too much to play Jones from the start at this stage, but we'll see what Wednesday night holds.
JF: What have you seen from Sporting KC this season that’s led to their success on the road?
KM: Opposing teams have to come out and try to play at home. Sporting Kansas City generally thrives when given the opportunity to press high within its well-drilled shape, win the ball in good areas and transition quickly when the opposition is stretched. It doesn't always work -- the game in Vancouver, for example -- but the template provides Sporting with a chance to thrive away from home more often than not.
JF: What are you expecting to see from this match?
KM: New England is the sort of team more comfortable playing without the ball. This group won't necessarily allow Sporting to come out and disrupt them. They are happy to concede possession for spells and try to catch Sporting out when the fullbacks push up the field. Both teams will try to tilt the balance in their favor. The absences in this game -- Caldwell for the Revs, Dom Dwyer and Benny Feilhaber for Sporting KC -- add another layer of intrigue. How the two teams adjust will likely dictate how the night unfolds."