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Sporting KC heads to New England for first leg of Eastern Conference semifinals

Vital momentum and positioning is up for grabs in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinal match between Sporting Kansas City and the New England Revolution.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

About the Teams

Sporting Kansas City

Sporting Kansas City finished off the season with a dramatic 2-1 win over Philadelphia to keep their Supporters Shield hopes alive but New York's win over Chicago the next day gave the Red Bulls a one point advantage to win the Supporters Shield. Despite barely missing out on the Shield, Sporting comes into this match unbeaten in the month of October, winning three out of four of those matches. Paulo Nagamura may return for Sporting KC this week, which could provide some veteran presence in the midfield. No other injuries to report for the two-seeded Sporting KC.

New England Revolution

About to play their first playoff match since 2009, the New England Revolution have caught fire at the perfect time in the season. The Revs haven't lost since September 14th and are coming off a three game winning streak to close out the season. They have one of the better defenses in the league, only giving up 38 goals on the year. That stat is only bested by Portland and Sporting Kansas City. The Revs may be missing one of the defenders responsible for their strong back line as Jose Goncalves may miss the first leg of the series with an injury picked up in the regular season finale. He is listed as questionable for this match.

Who to Watch For

Sporting Kansas City- Paulo Nagamura

Like I said above, Paulo Nagamura may make his return from injury just in time for this match. The opening day starter doesn't bring to the table on offense but on defense he can really help Sporting Kansas City pack in the midfield and to frustrate the Revs midfield. According to Steve Stoehr from The Bent Musket in the pre-match question exchange, the Revs have trouble moving the ball forward if the midfield is clogged up and Paulo Nagamura is the best option here if Sporting chooses to go that route.

New England Revolution- Andy Dorman

For Sporting KC fans, Andy Dorman is a name that is associated with the tackle that brought down Kei Kamara earlier this season and cost him a couple of games. In the next couple of games, however, he may be known for other reasons. Dorman has been playing very well for the Revs in the past couple of games. He has the ability to help break up the midfield and to frustrate Rosell and Nagamura on the defensive side of the midfield. He lacks some of the offensive capabilities that the Revs need to get goals but his ability to frustrate opposing midfields will be big in pushing the ball forward for the Revs.

How they will Win

Sporting Kansas City

I said in the preceding paragraph that Andy Dorman will be used to frustrate Sporting KC's midfield and he probably will. Sporting's advantage lies in the fact that they have Rosell and Nagamura/Joseph/Olum to gain a numbers advantage. Other than Dorman, the Revs lack a physical player in the midfield that can go toe-to-toe with Sporting's midfield. This gives Sporting an advantage because it allows them to push the Revs off the ball in the midfield, get the ball to Feilhaber and to the front line to get a goal. The Revs possibly missing Goncalves doesn't hurt either.

New England Revolution

There is a big difference between Sporting KC's 3-0 win earlier in the summer and this match. Two big reasons actually, named Juan Agudelo and Diego Fagundez. With these two men on the field, the Revs are a very dangerous offensive team. They will press down the wings and if Seth Sinovic or Chance Myers are caught too far up on a counter, Jimmy Nielsen better be ready for an onslaught of Revs forwards. The offense with Agudelo and Fagundez on the field is much better than Sporting KC has seen from this team in 2013 and it may be enough to net them a couple of goals.



Sporting Kansas City: Nielsen, Myers, Collin, Besler, Sinovic, Rosell, Nagamura, Feilhaber, Saad, Dwyer, Zusi

New England Revolution: Reis, Farrell, Soares, Goncalves, Alston, Agudelo, Dorman, Nguyen, Fagundez, Boele