KANSAS CITY, KS - JULY 30: Rajko Lekic #10 of the New England Revolution controls the ball on a fast break that ended in a goal as Matt Besler #5 of Sporting Kansas City chases during the game on July 30, 2011 at LiveStrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
The New England Revolution escaped LiveSTRONG Sporting Park with a creditable draw tonight after a 1-1 stalemate with Sporting Kansas City. Rajko Lekic scored a true poacher's goal, his fourth of the season, to give the Revs the lead before Teal Bunbury provided the home side with a dramatic late equalizer.
The Revolution were without Chris Tierney, who was serving a suspension, and had their first encounter with former Rev Seth Sinovic. They will now be without A.J. Soares next week as he received a red card late in the second half.
Sporting very nearly made this trip a nightmare for the Revolution within the first minute. An excellent counterattack resulted in Jeferson playing a great diagonal ball to Graham Zusi out wide. The Englishman hit his cross first-time, finding Kei Kamara at the back post but the Sierra Leone international skied his half-volley over the bar. Just five minutes later, a dangerous Benny Feilhaber giveaway saw Chance Myers sending a cross from the right byline that reached C.J. Sapong, but he was unable to direct it on goal from a tight angle.
The Revolution didn't get their first chance until the ninth minute, but it was a good one and they nearly made it count. Shalrie Joseph obtained possession of the ball in the middle
of the field and fed Feilhaber, who played an excellent floor pass up to Rajko Lekic. The Dane intelligently played a wall pass to the onrushing Joseph, who took the ball to the edge of the area and ripped a shot that flashed just wide of the right post. Just a minute later, at the other end, Kamara laid off to Sapong, who lashed an effort at Matt Reis that he did well to hold.
Lekic put a rather tame shot from 20 yards out on frame in the 19th minute, showing New England's intent. They continued to knock on the door in the 22nd minute when Feilhaber cut inside and played a pass up to Lekic. His back to goal, the striker held it up and then laid off to Zack Schilawski, who ripped a shot from distance that nearly shaved the top of the crossbar.
Kenny Mansally came on for Stephen McCarthy in the 34th minute after the latter fell awkwardly on a bar and appeared to hurt his shoulder. McCarthy has had shoulder problems all year and things didn't look good on the field for the young midfielder.
Four minutes later, though, the Revolution gained an unlikely lead in hostile territory. Matt Reis thundered a clearance that KC defender Daniel Cyrus rose to head clear. He misjudged, however, and it bounced past the back line where Lekic was lurking. He ran onto the ball and controlled with an excellent first touch before flicking a great shot with the outside of his right foot that found the far corner of the net past a despairing Jimmy Nielsen.
Kansas City almost tied the match up in the 48th minute. Kei Kamara received a long diagonal ball on the right flank and controlled very well before playing an excellent cross. Matt Reis came out to deflect it but flapped at it, leaving it for Seth Sinovic. The former Rev tried to settle and fired at the open goalmouth, but the pressure got to him and he scooped it over the bar.
C.J. Sapong, who had a fantastic match, labored to create another KC chance in the 63rd minute. He received the ball with his back to goal, held it up, and then laid it back to Roger Espinoza, who immediately sprayed it wide to Jeferson. The Brazilian found himself all alone in the area and tried to lace it from a slight angle but found side netting instead. Three minutes later, a Jeferson cross was not dealt with and the ball is played to Sapong free behind the defense, but Reis pulled off a highlight-reel save, getting his right leg out to deflect the rookie's shot wide.
Sporting's spell of dominance continued for most of the second half as the Revs retreated deeper and deeper, refusing to give themselves attacking options. In the 70th minute, Sapong collected the ball wide left and played a nice far-post cross, but Kamara's header found only side netting. Kenny Mansally had the Revolution's only real chance of the second half when he intercepted a pass at midfield and took a few touches before trying a daisycutter from probably close to 40 yards out that Nielsen was able to save and hold.
Kei Kamara saw another clear chance for Sporting go begging in the 81st minute. Sapong again collected the ball out on the left and played another great cross, this time to the six-yard box. Kamara rose highest, but his header blazed over the bar when he really should have done better.
Then the match got interesting in a way that only New England's games tend to. Sapong was released alone on goal from midfield and chased down by A.J. Soares. The rookie defender slid in and tackled the ball, catching some of Sapong in the process but appearing to make a good defensive play. Referee Terry Vaughn apparently disagreed, and he showed Soares a red card for his troubles.
If Kansas City had the better of play before, the red card made sure that the match was all about the sky blues. They spent the next seven minutes peppering the Revs goal with long-range shots from Zusi and Kamara, before substitute Teal Bunbury placated the home fans with his fourth goal of the season. He started the play by following an Omar Bravo dummy with an excellent bumper pass to play the Mexican in on goal. Bravo reached the byline and tried to cut back for Sapong, but the ball was deflected and squirted back for Bunbury, who made no mistake, burying it in the far corner of the net in the 89th minute to steal a point for the home side.