KANSAS CITY, Kan. – The New England Revolution found themselves shorthanded again – and once again, they came up well short on the scoreboard.
Just three days after drawing two straight red cards in a 7-0 loss at Atlanta United, New England had to play a man down for all but the first 10 minutes of Saturday night’s 3-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City.
“Obviously, we talked about it,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps told reporters after the match. “We were aware of it. We came in, and the first 15 minutes, Game Plan 1 was to manage the game, which means be smart and not get ourselves into any situations that would get us in trouble.”
The Revs were in great shape early on, up 1-0 after four minutes on Teal Bunbury’s deflected looper over Tim Melia, and might have hoped to vault past Montreal into seventh place in the Eastern Conference – three points below playoff position – with a victory.
But seven minutes after Bunbury’s goal, following an off-the-ball incident between Nemeth and Zusi, referee Jorge Gonzalez stopped play and called for a review.
“It was a throw-in,” Zusi said. “He was backing up into me, he touched and then threw an elbow. I went down and turned to the ref. He noticed me down and I told him that I caught an elbow and I told him to look at the replay.”
Gonzalez came back and showed Nemeth the red card, and the match was Sporting KC’s from then on.
“It’s just frustrating, period,” Bunbury said. “It’s not anything added, or less. When things are frustrating, that’s what they are. And they happen in this sport, unfortunately. But at this level, we have to be alert, be bought into something, and be ready for whatever comes our way.”
Gerso equalized with a putback in the 16th minute, and Diego Rubio tucked in the winner before halftime and added an insurance goal in the 57th, keeping the hosts unbeaten at Children’s Mercy Park across all competitions in 2017.
“Going up a goal? On the road? It’s huge,” Bunbury said. “It should have been something to kind of catalyze us to go forward. But the most important thing is getting points. We dropped points tonight that are crucial for us, and now it’s looking pretty tough. We’ve got to keep grinding, and now we’ve got to stick together and see what happens.”
Things don’t get any easier for the Revolution after this, either. Next weekend, they have to face Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield leaders Toronto FC.
The first priority, Heaps said, is to rest up from this rough week.
“These have been two long games,” he said. “Get ourselves back to Boston, start game-planning. It’s going to be a tough game, and one we know is a must-win for us.”