Sporting KC suffers stoppage-time loss in New England

Sporting Kansas City suffered a 2-0 loss at the New England Revolution on Saturday at Gillette Stadium, conceding twice in second half stoppage time while playing shorthanded.

The defeat is the team’s first by a two-goal margin in MLS play in over a year and the second loss of the season, both coming on the road with goals in stoppage time.

The Revolution saw their best chance of the first half come in the 14th minute as Lee Nguyen’s chip played Jerry Bengtson behind the Sporting Kansas City backline. The Honduran Designated Player brought the ball down with his chest but sent his left-footed shot wide of the right post.

New England striker Teal Bunbury, acquired from Sporting KC in a trade earlier this year, had a pair of opportunities to score against his former club in the opening 45 minutes and both came from nearly the same spot eight yards out from goal. His first, a well-taken shot in the 21st minute, was blocked in the goalmouth by Sporting Kansas City captain Matt Besler and the second was tipped over the crossbar by goalkeeper Eric Kronberg in the 32nd minute in what proved to be the only shot on goal of the half for either side.

Sporting Kansas City’s defense held its opponent without a goal in the first half for the seventh straight MLS match to start the 2014 season and the team’s attack outshot the Revolution 10-5 in the first half, though failed to challenge New England goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth. Sal Zizzo came closest to breaking the deadlock in the 26th minute but fired high  from the right side of the penalty area after receiving a pass from Benny Feilhaber.

Shuttleworth was called into action in the 59th minute, diving low to his left to palm away the attempt from Alex Martinez. The rookie, making his third appearance of the year for Sporting KC, then collected the ensuing corner kick and placed his shot inches wide of the near post.

Sporting Kansas City were reduced to 10 players in the 74th minute with the ejection of centerback Aurelien Collin for his challenge on Diego Fagundez.  Nevertheless, the shorthanded visitors nearly grabbed the lead three minutes later as Chance Myers led the counter and found Dom Dwyer on the right flank. His service into the area fell to Feilhaber, whose shot was off target from close range.

The visitors had done well to hold the Revolution without a shot on goal in the second half until stoppage time struck and the Revolution converted on two separate scoring sequences. The game-winning goal came off a cross from Fagundez, initially touched by Darrius Barnes and then re-directed by Bunbury inside the six-yard box.

Bunbury’s goal, his first in a Revolution uniform and first since August of 2012, snapped Sporting Kansas City’s 282-minute shutout streak and was the first for the Revolution in the regular season series in a span of 591 minutes dating back to 2011. Bunbury now has 22 goals in his MLS career (including postseason).

Two minutes later, New England doubled the lead with a penalty kick converted by Lee Nguyen. Fagundez earned the PK, forcing a save by Kronberg on the breakaway and then heading the rebound into the arm of Oriol Rosell.  Nguyen calmly slotted his shot to Kronberg’s right for his third goal of the season and 12th of his three-year MLS career.

With the loss, Sporting Kansas City slips to second place in the Eastern Conference and sits one point back of the Columbus Crew. The two sides will meet next Sunday at Sporting Park in a nationally televised match-up on NBC Sports. Fans are encouraged to arrive early for the team’s MLS Cup ring presentation ceremony at 2 p.m.

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