New England and Sporting Kansas City may have shared the points on Saturday night, but clearly the heat was the winner in this match. In temperatures almost eclipsing 100 degrees , a slightly undermanned Revolution side fought toe-to-toe with the best team in the Eastern Conference and earned a 0-0 draw at Livestrong Sporting Park.
The match itself began with a little side storyline when the Revs lineup was published and didn't include Clyde Simms or Saer Sene, and while the French striker entered the match as a sub, Simms was given the night off completely, though there were no reports of injury.
New England fielded an almost Barcelona-like lineup, with no "true" striker, although it looked like Ryan Guy was listed as the player at the top of the formation, with Lee Nguyen, Benny Feilhaber, Kelyn Rowe, Shalrie Joseph, and Chris Tierney all getting the start in the midfield.
The match kicked off in the oppressive heat and it took a few minutes for both sides to get acclimated to the difficult conditions. It was New England who provided the match with it's first chance on goal when a delightful through-ball found a streaking Ryan Guy through the midfield, but his quick-triggered effort was fired right at Sporting goalkeeper, Jimmy Nielsen.
In the 15th minute, the Revs almost put an end to all of the set-piece criticism when Lee Nguyen's floating cross found Ryan Guy's head at the back post, but his thunderous header was seemingly barely knocked off the line by Nielsen. In spite of the protests of every player in blue, the match remained scoreless.
Sporting Kansas City found a little bit of momentum after that scare from Guy, and it was Jacob Peterson providing the spark. Peterson had back-to-back chances early in the 22nd minute, but the Revolution back line managed to make the final stop, preserving Matt Reis' clean sheet.
New England proved that the glut of midfielders that took the field was paying off once again in the 26th minute when Chris Tierney found a wide open Benny Feilhaber in the box, but the cross handcuffed the Revs' playmaker and the resulting shot went wide.
It was Peterson again providing the fireworks for the first chance of the second half when his deftly flicked on headed ball towards the back post was brilliantly saved by Reis in the 52nd minute. That chance was followed shortly thereafter in the 58th minute by the substitution for Saer Sene, who entered the match for New England looking for the go-ahead goal.
Sene almost made an instant impact when Chris Tierney found him with a solid low-cross across the box, but the recently inserted striker couldn't get enough of the ball to get the attempt on frame.
As the match approached the later minutes, you could begin to see the heat taking a toll on the players, as members of both teams began cramping and walking around the field much more frequently. After being inserted into the match, Fernando Cardenas increased the energy from the Revs, and nearly put the Revs ahead in the 80th minute when his impressive cutting, dribbling run into the box turned the defender, but the Colombian's swerving shot went right at the keeper.
A few moments later, Tierney and Sene connected once again off of a Revolution free-kick. Tierney sent a left-footed curling cross towards the back post where it sailed over everyone and met Sene at the post, whose left-footed volley from point-blank range was sprayed poorly, and out for a throw-in, keeping the match deadlocked.
In spite of almost ten minutes of stoppage time (a few extra attributed to a nasty elbow to the head of Matt Reis) the match ended scoreless after a few nervy moments from both sides. While the draw won't suit most Revs fans giving how well the squad played on the night under difficult circumstances, a draw on the road in one of the toughest stadiums in MLS against the first-place team in the East is a good result.
New England will travel back to Foxboro for another week of training before heading to Philadelphia to play the Union next Sunday night on national television in yet another huge Eastern Conference matchup.