The New England Revolution benefited from a late own goal to beat Sporting Kansas City 3-1 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. With the win, the Revolution stayed in seventh place in the Eastern Conference and are now two points behind the Montreal Impact for the final playoff spot. Sporting Kansas City remain in fifth place in the Western Conference, but missed an opportunity to climb above Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference standings.
Juan Agudelo, Kei Kamara star for the Revolution
The Revolution got off to a terrific start when forward Kei Kamara scored in the fourth minute. The Sierra Leone international was able to stay onside to receive a Juan Agudelo's pass. Kamara ran through on goal before passing the ball past Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia.
In the 20th minute, the Revs missed a great chance to double their lead. Agudelo found Kamara in acres of space and the Revs forward dribbled into SKC's 18-yard-box before crossing the ball to a wide open Kelyn Rowe. Melia, though, was alert to the danger and deflected Rowe's chipped shot wide of goal.
SKC created few scoring opportunities in the first half but could have tied the game before halftime. In first-half stoppage time, SKC midfielder Paulo Nagamura slipped a pretty pass to forward Dominic Dwyer, but Dwyer was quickly surrounded by multiple Revs defenders and his close-range shot was blocked. Dwyer's attempt was the last meaningful action in the first half and the Revs went into halftime up 1-0.
SKC manager Peter Vermes subbed on Designated Player (DP) midfielder Graham Zusi for defender Nuno Coelho at halftime, and Zusi quickly made an impact. The substitute got on the end of a Nagamura cross and his shot was deflected wide for a corner kick. Midfielder Benny Feilhaber curled in the ensuing corner kick, defender Kevin Ellis flicked Feilhaber's corner to the far post, and forward Dwyer knocked the ball into an empty net. The goal was Dwyer's 16th of the season and it put the Revs' playoff hopes in deep trouble.
In the 56th minute, the Revs almost retook the lead. Revs midfielder Lee Nguyen sent a delicate, one-touch chipped pass to Kamara, who raced through on goal. Just before Kamara could get a shot off, SKC defender Saad Abdul-Salaam knocked the ball out for a Revs corner kick. The corner kick came to nothing and the game remained tied at one.
The Revs generated scoring chance after chance throughout the second half, and in the 75th minute, they finally got their second goal. Revs midfielder Diego Fagundez sent a through-ball to Kamara, who proceeded to cross the ball to midfielder Nguyen. Nguyen took a touch and fired the ball towards goal, where it ricocheted off the left post before hitting defender Kevin Ellis and rolling into the net for an own goal.
Just eight minutes after taking the lead, the Revs put the nail in SKC's coffin. Forward Kamara got the better of SKC center back Ike Opara and sent a low cross to forward Agudelo, who fired the ball past goalkeeper Melia. The goal was Agudelo's sixth goal of the season and he's now delivered five goals and three assists in his last six matches.
SKC did not trouble the Revs' back line after scoring in the 49th minute, and Dwyer's weak header wide of goal in the 91st minute was all they could muster in the second half. When the final whistle sounded, the more-than-25,000 Revs fans in attendance celebrated with their team while SKC trudged off the field, frustrated after losing their ninth game on the road this season.
Men of the match
New England Revolution: Juan Agudelo
The Revolution needed a big game from Agudelo in order to keep their playoff hopes alive, and the 23-year-old responded with arguably his finest performance of the season. The Revs forward finished Saturday's match with one goal, one assist, two key passes, two clearances, two tackles and one interception. Agudelo was a force on both sides of the ball and must continue to be a difference maker if the Revs hope to make the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year.
Sporting Kansas City: Jimmy Medranda
Sporting Kansas City left back Jimmy Medranda has been a pleasant surprise for SKC this season. The Colombian was initially behind SKC left backs Seth Sinovic and Amadou Dia on the depth chart to start the season, but after injuries and suspensions sidelined both Dia and Sinovic, Medranda was inserted into SKC's starting lineup and has been one of the best left backs in Major League Soccer ever since. The 22-year-old finished Saturday's match with seven tackles, six interceptions, two clearances and two key passes. Medranda worked tirelessly to assist SKC's offense and he was one of only a couple SKC players who played well on Saturday.
What's next for both teams
The Revolution are off next week because of the international break and will play their next game against the Chicago Fire on Sunday, October 16, at 3:00 PM ET. The Revolution should be able to beat the last-place Fire and keep their playoff hopes alive for another week. The Revolution know that a loss against the Fire will end their playoff hopes, so they can't afford to slip up against a rebuilding Fire team.
Sporting Kansas City also has a bye week next week and will travel to Salt Lake City, Utah, to take on Real Salt Lake on Sunday, October 16, at 5:00 PM ET. SKC is only two points behind RSL in the Western Conference standings and a win against one of their biggest rivals will boost their playoff hopes. RSL has a sterling (win-loss-draw) 8-1-7 record at home this season, so SKC will need to play much better than they did on Saturday if they hope to beat RSL at Rio Tinto Stadium.