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Sporting Kansas City vs. New England Revolution: Complete Preview for MLS Clash

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 6, 2013

Nov 2, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; Sporting KC midfielder Graham Zusi (8) and New England Revolution midfielder Andy Dorman (12) battle for possession of the ball during the first half of the eastern conference semifinals at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Revolution travel to Kansas City Wednesday with a spot in the Eastern Conference Final on the line.

This is the second leg of the two-legged Eastern semifinal. The Revolution carry a 2-1 advantage into the match after a win at home Saturday.

Unlike European knockout competitions, that away goal for Sporting Kansas City will count just the same as a home goal, so they're not coming into this match with any sort of edge in that regard.

It should be a lively affair, as Sporting KC look to take control early in front of their home fans and get the crucial equalizer. They've got a talented side, and getting bounced this early in the playoffs would be considered a major disappointment after earning the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

When: Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 9 p.m. ET

Where: Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kan.

TV: KSMO (Kansas City); CSN-NE (New England)

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Live Stream: MLS Live

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Will Sporting KC's Season End at Home, Again?

Nov 7, 2012; Kansas City, KS, USA; Sporting KC defender Chance Myers (7) sits on the ground after the game against the Houston Dynamo at Livestrong Sporting Park. Kansas City won the game 1-0 but lost 2-1 on aggregate score. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

By virtue of having the lower seed, Sporting Kansas City are supposed to be at an advantage playing at home in the second leg. It's the more pivotal of the two matches, so the team with the better regular-season record should get to play in front of their home fans.

At least that's the thought process behind it.

Kansas City has one of the best home atmospheres in all of MLS. It's no coincidence that the organization's fortunes have changed since moving into Sporting Park. The club has created the blueprint for others to follow regarding where and how to build a new stadium.

That's why it's a bit surprising that Sporting KC's last two seasons have ended at home. In 2011, they were bounced, 2-0, by the Houston Dynamo in the Eastern Conference Final. Then a year later, it was the Dynamo again, prevailing on aggregate despite a 1-0 loss in Kansas City in the second leg.

Is it really possible Kansas City could be knocked out at this stage three years in a row?

Can New England Snatch an Early Goal?

Nov 2, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Revolution forward  Diego Fagundez (left) and forward Juan Agudelo (10) celebrate a goal by midfielder Andy Dorman (right) during the second half of the eastern conference semifinals at Gillette Stadium. Manda
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

More than likely, the Revolution will have to score at least one goal in order to advance. The earlier that goal comes, the better.

Although the away-goal rule doesn't come into play, it will be huge for New England to come out and get an early goal to silence the crowd.

Heaping that early pressure on Sporting KC will only serve to make them more desperate. They wouldn't have any chance to settle into the match. As a result, they wouldn't try stringing as many moves together, instead launching low-percentage long shots at goal.

Playing in front of a home crowd could turn into more of a hindrance than it is a help.

There's also the benefit of getting a two-goal lead, enabling you to drop deeper and defend more. That would be playing right into the hands of New England.

The Revolution won't kill off the game by controlling the ball. According to WhoScored, they only had 39 percent of possession during Saturday's match. Don't expect that to drastically change in the second leg.

Head coach Jay Heaps' modus operandi the entire season has been letting his team sit back and hit on the counter, using long balls up the pitch and risky through balls to create chances.

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