The New England Revolution are set to take on Eastern Conference rivals Sporting Kansas City tonight at 8:30 PM EST at beautiful LiveSTRONG Sporting Park in Kansas City. The Revs are hoping to bounce back from a sloppy 1-0 season-opening loss to San Jose, while SKC will hope to build on a 1-0 victory over D.C. United that only an inspired performance from United goalkeeper Bill Hamid kept close.
Injuries: New England will have to do without strong centerback John Lozano (hip flexor) and veteran defender Darrius Barnes (calf). Midfielders Zak Boggs (ankle) and Sainey Nyassi (IR - hamstring) remain out as well. Kelyn Rowe (neck) and Saer Sene (knee) were listed as probable and traveled with the team.
Interesting Storyline: New England reject Seth Sinovic is expected to start at left-back for Kansas City in this match. Sinovic was released early last season despite some promising performances at left-back for the Revs in 2010, including a masterful performance defending Dwayne De Rosario against Toronto in that year's home opener. Sinovic is now widely regarded as one of the top left-backs in MLS, while New England has struggled since to lock down the position.
2011 Head-to-Head: The Revs took the 2011 series between these two clubs with a 1-0-1 record. The victory was a 3-2 affair that featured great performances from Benny Feilhaber, Marko Perovic, Shalrie Joseph, and Rajko Lekic. Perovic was injured and then released not long afterwards. The draw came later in the season, and was a heartbreaker as Teal Bunbury equalized for the hosts with only minutes remaining in the match.
Keys to the Game: New England rolled over for San Jose in the first half last weekend, and they were punished for it, but only once. If the Revs roll over for SKC, they'll be four goals in the hole before they can blink. Once again, the Revs have to come out swinging, but they need to maintain discipline at the back. SKC can beat a team from anywhere in the final third and New England must be wary of that.
Last week, Shalrie Joseph mailed in a performance most unbecoming of a Designated Player and captain. This week, he must see that it doesn't happen again. If the Revs stick to the same sort of formation they went with last week, he and Clyde Simms will be outnumbered in midfield, so they have to be able to cover a lot of ground and play simple, intelligent passes to maintain possession. New England cannot be sucked into the direct game again, or they will lose.
Injuries to Lozano and Barnes are likely to shift A.J. Soares back inside to pair up with Stephen McCarthy, while Chris Tierney should slot in at left back. Saer Sene may make his MLS debut by starting up top with Blake Brettschneider, or perhaps Fernando Cardenas or Lee Nguyen, but even if he doesn't start, it seems likely that Sene will make a substitute appearance.
Broadcast Information: TV: 8:30 PM, CSN Alternate Channels; RADIO: 8:30 PM, 98.5 The Sports Hub.