November 2, Kelyn Rowe delivered the promise of a great young emerging American player by serving up the explosive winning playoff goal in the New England Revolution's 2-1 victory over Eastern Conference powerhouse Sporting Kansas City at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass for a boisterous crowd of 15,156 fans.
"I don’t know what it is, man, maybe I just get up for tournament games," said Rowe. "I don’t know what it is."
The win was the Revolution’s first postseason victory since 2009 and the Gillette attendance was the highest at a home postseason game since the 2005 Eastern Conference Final.
Rowe secured the all-important home win against Sporting KC in the first leg of the teams’ Eastern Conference Semifinal series. The Revolution now hold a one-goal lead in the aggregate-goal series, with the second and decisive leg set for Wednesday, Nov. 6, at Sporting Park. The team that scores the most goals in the two-leg series will advance to the two-game Eastern Conference Championship series.
Although it was young Rowe's first-ever playoff match, the promising apple-cheeked forward now has 12 goals - seven in MLS regular-season, four in U.S. Open Cup and this one in MLS Cup Playoffs.
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Second-half gut check
After a mundane and scoreless first half, New England broke through in the second half by creating a goal off a corner kick in the 55th minute. After Sporting KC cleared the ball, Rowe sent the ball into the mix and Juan Agudelo kicked it wide to Diego Fagundez. SKC keeper Jimmy Nielsen deflected Fagundez's lovely shot but the rebound was tapped home by Andy Dorman for his first-ever postseason goal with the Revs despite nine previous playoff appearances and his first since 2007.
New England extended the lead in the 67th minute when midfielder Lee Ngyen flicked the ball to Rowe, who stunned Sporting KC when he exploded into space to score the winning goal. When Rowe makes his trademark explosive run, he's a threat to every team in MLS.
Kansas City pulled one back two minutes later when they scored off a free kick. Lawrence Olum sent in the service and after the ball was kicked out, Myers sent it back into the penalty area where C.J. Sapong back-heeled it to Aurelien Collin, who cut the difference in half, 2-1.
Both teams continued to press and six cautions were shown in the final 21 minutes.
Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis’ save in the third-minute of stoppage time clinched the game for the Revs and sent the team to Kansas City with the one-goal advantage this Wednesday. Reis went undefeated at 7-0-4 in the regular season and won the Revolution's Humanitarian of the Year Award for his work following the Boston Marathon bombings.
The Revolution and Sporting KC will play the Second Leg of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series when the teams meet on Wednesday, Nov. 6, at Sporting Park. Kickoff is set for 9 p.m. ET, and the match will be broadcast live on TV by Comcast SportsNet’s alternate channels.
But this first Revolution playoff win does not guarantee advancement in the playoffs.
"I’m not worried about [the Revolution]," said SKC head coach Peter Vermes. "We’re going back to our place, and it’s going to be a fun atmosphere for us. That’s what I know."
Seven players were shown yellow cards in first leg, with four Revs seeing cards: Dimitry Imbongo, Nguyen, Soares and Chad Barrett, while Seth Sinovic, Teal Bunbury and Aurelian Collin were shown yellow for Kansas City. A second yellow card by any player in the next game will mean they would be forced to miss the first leg of the Eastern Conference Championship should his team advance.
NE – Andy Dorman (unassisted)
NE – Kelyn Rowe (Lee Nguyen, Juan Agudelo)
SKC – Aurelien Collin (C.J. Sapong, Chance Myers)
New England Revolution: Matt Reis, Darrius Barnes, Jose Goncalves, A.J. Soares, Andrew Farrell, Diego Fagundez, Andy Dorman, Lee Nguyen, Kelyn Rowe (Chad Barrett 85), Juan Agudelo, Dimitry Imbongo (Scott Caldwell 71)
Substitutes Not Used: Bobby Shuttleworth, Stephen McCarthy, Donnie Smith, Jerry Bengtson, Charlie Davies
STATS: Shots 1, Shots on Target 3, Corner Kicks 2, Saves 3, Fouls 13, Offsides 2, Passes 234, Possession 37.9%
Sporting Kansas City: Jimmy Nielsen, Seth Sinovic, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Chance Myers, Graham Zusi, Lawrence Olum, Oriol Rosell, Jacob Peterson (Soony Saad 70), Teal Bunbury (Dom Dwyer 77), C.J. Sapong
Substitutes Not Used: Eric Kronberg, Ike Opara, Benny Feilhaber, Peterson Joseph, Mechack Jerome
STATS: Shots 7, Shots on Target 4, Corner Kicks 3, Saves 1, Fouls 12, Offsides 2, Passes 405, Possession 62.1%
SKC – Seth Sinovic (caution) 53
NE – Dimitry Imbongo (caution) 69
SKC – Teal Bunbury (caution) 71
SKC – Aurelien Collin (caution) 76
NE – Lee Nguyen (caution) 84
NE – A.J. Soares (caution) 90
NE – Chad Barrett (caution) 92+
Referee: Ismail Elfath
Assistant Referees: George Ganser, Corey Rockwell
Fourth Official: Jorge Gonzalez