FOXBORO, Mass.- The New England Revolution beat Sporting Kansas City 2-1 at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night in front of 15,164 in the first leg of the semifinals. Andy Dorman and Kelyn Rowe both scored for the Revolution in the 55th and 67th minutes, respectively, while Kansas City's Aurelien Collin pulled a goal back in the 69th.
It was the Revolution's first playoff victory since Nov. 1, 2009, while Dorman's goal marked the end of the Revolution's five-game, 556-minute scoreless run against Sporting Kansas City.
They will carry a one-goal aggregate lead into the second leg, slated for next Saturday at Sporting Park in Missouri.
"It's big momentum," said Rowe of the win. "We know we need to get a result there to go to the next round...We still want to go for a win, you never want to shoot for anything less. For us it's going in to get a result like we did today. Fight, and then play."
The three-goal second half contrasted with a first half that saw both teams struggle to connect passes and create chances. Kansas City, however, did have the edge in shots in the first stanza. In the 17th minute, Chance Meyers had is header off a corner kick by Graham Zusi cleared off the line by Lee Nguyen. In the 40th minute, Teal Bunbury went in alone on goal off a long ball by Zusi but shot right at Matt Reis.
"That first half was hard," said Rowe. "Both teams were kind of just dumping it in, hoping for second balls. The game opened up as the second half went through."
In the second half, the Revolution looked more confident in possession. They freed up space for their midfielders, which allowed them to begin using the flank.
The Revolution's first goal came from the space on the flank. Diego Fagundez ran into the the right side of the penalty unmarked and fired a shot at goal that Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen parried away. But the rebound fell to Dorman, who was unmarked one yard from the net and easily poked the ball in for the lead.
"[My goal] kind of settled us down a bit. It was good," added Dorman. "It was good to get the goal, but It's a two-leg series and we have to go again. We know how tough it's going to be going there."
New England doubled their lead moments later. Juan Agudelo played the ball into the center of the offensive third of the field to Nguyen. Nguyen then sent a low pass across the penalty area to Rowe, who fired a shot with the outside of his foot into the back of the net.
"I know Lee can play that ball, so I made the run. I got a little tug so I didn't know if I'd get there with my left foot. I decided to hit it with the outside of my right. I was little worried, I thought it was going to hit the post and not go in."
Kansas City cut the Revolution's lead in half in the 69th minute. A freekick by Chance Meyers found Peterson, who played the ball across the box for Aurelien Collin. Collin, unmarked, slid the pass into the back of the net.
Kansas City's goal greatly lessened the Revolution's advantage ahead of Wednesday's second leg in Kansas City. But were it not for Matt Reis, the Revolution could have lost that edge. He made two saves, the biggest of which was a stop on a point-blank shot from Dominic Dwyer in second half stoppage time."
"It's a huge save...it's Matt Reis, his reflexes are pretty amazing," said Heaps. "I don't think there's been a better goalie in the league that has reflexes like that."
Reis' save preserved the Revolution's aggregate goal lead. But the task will become more difficult with a final clash looming on Sporting Park. The Revolution have never won there and, what's more, Kansas City lost just four times there this season
"It's a step forward, but it's a very difficult road ahead," said Heaps of Saturday night's win. "It's a battle. We have a one goal lead, it's halftime, and we have a big, big battle going into Kansas City."
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