Left shorthanded for the majority of the game by a 14th-minute red card to central defender Stephen McCarthy, the New England Revolution suffered a 3-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.
Graham Zusi (28th minute) and Kei Kamara (39th minute) put the home side in control before the halftime break, while C.J. Sapong added a killer third just two minutes into the second half. Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen made six saves to record his second straight shutout.
The win pushed Sporting KC (2-0-0, 6 pts.) to the top of the Eastern Conference standings, while the Revs (0-2-0, 0 pts.) suffered their second consecutive road loss to the open the 2012 campaign. New England returns to Gillette Stadium for its home opener next weekend against the Portland Timbers.
French striker Saer Sène made his MLS debut after missing the Revolution’s season opener because of swelling in his left knee, while Lee Nguyen made his first MLS start on the left wing after appearing as a substitute last weekend against San Jose. A.J. Soares moved back to his natural center back position to replace the injured John Lozano (R hip flexor strain), while Chris Tierney returned from suspension to take over at left back.
Tierney got involved in the attack in the fifth minute, surging down the left wing and delivering a curling cross into the middle intended for Sene. The pass was half-cleared to the top of the box, where Benny Feilhaber collected the loose ball before rolling a shot wide of the left post while under pressure.
Sporting Kansas City returned the pressure and the hosts were denied only by the woodwork in the ninth minute. Midfielder Roger Espinoza attempted an audacious chip from distance after Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis came well out of his box for a 50-50 challenge, but the effort struck the right post and bounced clear.
The pivotal moment occurred in the 14th minute when McCarthy was issued a straight red card for holding Sapong as the SKC forward attempted to race onto Kamara’s flick on. Shalrie Joseph dropped from midfield into a central defensive role to plug the gap.
It took Sporting 14 minutes to capitalize on its man advantage, grabbing the lead through Zusi in the 28th minute. Former Revolution defender Seth Sinovic began the move when his left-wing cross found Kamara at the back post and the Sierra Leonean forward blasted a low pass across the face of goal. The ball settled for Zusi, who held off the challenge of Joseph and finished from close range while on his backside.
Kamara doubled Sporting KC’s lead to 2-0 in the 39th minute. Sinovic was again the originator when his cross from the end line was pushed away by Reis, but Kamara latched onto the loose ball and scored at the second attempt, finishing into the upper right corner after his first shot was stopped by Reis.
Sapong put his name on the score sheet in the 47th minute to extend Sporting KC’s lead to 3-0 and for the third time Sinovic was involved in the buildup. Zusi’s clever short pass sent Sinovic into the box and the left back smartly cut the ball back for Sapong, who finished easily from six yards out.
Second-half substitute Ryan Guy was the Revolution’s biggest offensive threat, forcing a pair of saves out of Nielsen with headers in the 56th and 76th minutes.
Sporting KC had two late chances to add a fourth but Sapong was denied by Reis on a breakaway and right back Chance Myers saw his long-range effort rebound off the crossbar.