On a sunny morning inside the Swope Park soccer village, Sporting Kansas City captain Matt Besler stood on the facility’s practice field and cited evidence his club was nearing its top form. He detailed an improving team chemistry, its confident personnel and a ceaseless effort.
A day later, it all came together.
In a hurry, too.
Sporting KC routed New England 4-2 on Wednesday night in front of 18,864 fans at Sporting Park, ending the Revolution’s nine-match unbeaten streak.
“That looked like us,” Besler said. “That’s the team we want to be, and that’s how we expect to play at home.”
A 14-minute stretch supplied the bulk of the damage.
New England, 5-3-4, grabbed an early 1-0 lead — and appeared poised to effectively utilize the counterattack for most of the evening.
Instead, it was a mirage.
Dom Dwyer. Krisztian Nemeth. Benny Feilhaber. The formidable scoring trio needed only 14 minutes to turn a one-goal deficit into a two-goal advantage.
The equalizer lay at the feet of Dwyer. Three times.
He missed the first two chances. He buried the third one.
Dwyer chested down a pass from Nemeth with his back to the goal, turned and fired a shot inside the near post for his fourth goal of the season.
“That’s been the story of the season so far — missing the easy ones and scoring the hard ones,” Dwyer said. “... Honestly, it always motivates me. I’m going to miss chances in a game. I just have to pick myself up and go on to the next one.”
Ten minutes later, Nemeth headed home a pass from Feilhaber, who tallied his MLS-leading sixth assist of the season on the play. Feilhaber added a penalty kick in the 43rd minute, which was awarded to Sporting KC after Dwyer was fouled by Jose Goncalves in the box.
Or so referee Allen Chapman ruled, anyway. The call was heavily heavily disputed from New England players, as well as from coach Jay Heaps. To put it mildly.
“I thought it was really soft, but I haven’t seen it on film, so I (can’’t) give it it’s fair due,” Heaps said. “I just didn’t like the way the momentum swung the calls. That’s where I was most upset — not just one call.”
The momentum kept rolling. To conclude the quick-fire sequence, Nemeth provided his second goal of the match only 23 seconds after halftime.
A year after falling to New England three times, Sporting KC earned payback by matching its best scoring output of the season.
It was using a shorthanded roster, too.
Sporting KC, 4-2-5, sat seven players because of injury — Graham Zusi (concussion), Seth Sinovic (concussion), Roger Espinoza (groin), Marcel de Jong (hip), Bernardo Añor (hamstring), Chance Myers (Achilles) and Ike Opara (Achilles). It was also without teenage defender Erik Palmer-Brown, who on Sunday joined the United States under-20 men’s national team, which begins play in the U-20 World Cup later this month.
Those absences left Sporting KC with only 17 players available for selection Wednesday.
“I think you saw a lot of character tonight from the team,” Dwyer said. “That’s the kind of team we are.”
Sporting KC peppered New England with seven shots on goal — its high mark of the season — and overcame goals from Juan Agudelo and Scott Caldwell to remain unbeaten at home this season. In the process, it prevented the Revolution from taking over possession of first place in the Eastern Conference, Sporting KC’s former home.
Behind the second victory from goalkeeper Tim Melia, who stayed unbeaten through three starts, Sporting KC moved into a tie for fourth place in the Western Conference.
“Obviously we were missing a lot of guys, (then) we go down a goal because of a mistake on my part, and then every single guy picks me up,” Feilhaber said. “We deserved the game from then on out, and it says a lot about the mentality and ability of the guys, (and) what this stadium does for us in our home games.”
Sporting Kansas City 4
New England Revolution 2
SPORTING: Tim Melia, Matt Besler, Kevin Ellis, Amadou Dia, Jalil Anibaba, Soni Mustivar, Paulo Nagamura, Benny Feilhaber, Dom Dwyer, Krisztian Nemeth (Saad Abdul-Salaam, 90th+), Jacob Peterson (Connor Hallisey, 79th).
NEW ENGLAND: Brad Knighton, Jose Goncalves, Kevin Alston (Chris Tierney, 73rd), London Woodberry, Andy Dorman, Scott Caldwell, Diego Fagundez (Charlie Davies, 54th), Kelyn Rowe (Teal Bunbury, 54th), Lee Nguyen, Jermaine Jones, Juan Agudelo.
Sporting: 2, Dwyer 4 (Nemeth, Anibaba), 29th. 3, Nemeth 4 (Feilhaber), 39th. 4, Feilhaber 3 (penalty kick), 43rd. New England: 1, Agudelo 4 (Rowe), 11th minute; Caldwell 2 (Davies), 64th.
Shots on goal
Sporting KC: Feilhaber, 30th; Dwyer, 37th; Dia, 71st; Nagamura, 76th.
New England: Dorman, 41st.
Referee: Allen Chapman.
Assistant referee: Paul Scott.
Assistant referee: Fabio Tovar.
4th official: Tyler Ploeger.
Announced attendance: 18,864.