The New England Revolution will travel to lavish LiveSTRONG Sporting Park to take on Sporting Kansas City Saturday night in their first Eastern Conference clash of the 2012 season. The Revs will attempt to erase the memory of a sloppy and disappointing loss to San Jose in last week's season opener, while Kansas City is looking to build on a 1-0 victory over DC where they created a host of chances but were only able to snatch victory in stoppage time.
New England will have to do some shuffling to account for several injuries in their back line, but will be bolstered by the return of Chris Tierney, who served a red card suspension against the Quakes that carried over from 2011. The Revs went into last week's game with a mind to create and keep possession, but that quickly broke down in favor of a largely-ineffective direct approach that played right into San Jose's hands. This week, they will attempt to enforce their will a bit more comprehensively upon the opposition.
On the KC side, the Revs will need to watch out for the considerable attacking talent present on one of the deepest offensive squads in MLS. Sporting will be without striker Teal Bunbury, who is with the USA U-23s in Caleb Porter's Olympic qualifying camp, but will still boast a formidable force of attackers that include C.J. Sapong, Graham Zusi, Bobby Convey, Kei Kamara, Soony Saad, and Jacob Peterson. SKC runs a fluid, high-tempo 4-2-3-1 that overwhelms defenses and creates a bevy of chances; New England's weakened back line will have to be much, much sharper this week if they hope to weather the storm.
On the injury front, New England will be without defenders John Lozano (hip flexor) and Darrius Barnes (calf), as well as Zak Boggs (ankle) and Sainey Nyassi (hamstring). Saer Sene (knee) and Kelyn Rowe (neck) were listed as probable as of Friday, and are likely to feature in some capacity.
The loss of Lozano and Barnes will be slightly mitigated by A.J. Soares' absence from that injury report. It is likely that he will move centrally and pair with Stephen McCarthy in defense while Chris Tierney takes the left-back spot. If Rowe doesn't start, Lee Nguyen or Ryan Guy can easily slot in for him on the right, or even Jeremiah White, if fit. Both Nguyen and Guy looked dangerous in their substitute appearances last Saturday.
Kansas City has the all-time advantage in this series, with the Revs carrying a 13-21-10 record since MLS's first season. However, last season New England took the series, posting a 1-0-1 record against a talented SKC squad that went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. New England carries a 6-10-4 road record against Kansas City into this match.
The match will be televised live at 8:30 PM EST, but CSN has been forced to carry alternate channels for the broadcast. Check the link to determine where you'll be watching the game. 98.5 The Sports Hub will have the radio call.