Another game, another red card, and — guess what? — another loss for Sporting Kansas City.
That’s right. A pattern is developing here, as coach Peter Vermes’ team had a player receive a red card for the third time in its last four MLS matches against New England on Saturday night. And just like the other two times — both losses — they were powerless to stop the momentum it generated for their opponent, as New England scored the game-winning goal just minutes later in a 3-2 victory at Gillette Stadium.
Sporting KC, which drops to 1-3-1 on the season, has also been issued red cards in its other losses this season, to Columbus and Chicago. Omar Bravo and Julio Cesar were the culprits, and this time it was centerback Aurelien Collin.
Vermes has said many times that he likes Collin, who was signed just minutes before the transfer deadline last week and was making his MLS debut, because of his aggressive nature. But his foul was egregious enough that a frustrated Vermes wouldn’t even comment on it afterward.
“There’s nothing for me to say,” Vermes said. “It was obvious on TV.”
It came in the 76th minute. The score was tied at 2-2 when Collin went up for a challenge on New England goalkeeper Matt Reis off a corner kick. The ball was deflected away, but Collin — who came down hard — got the red card when he inexplicably rose and shoved New England midfielder Benny Feilhaber to the ground afterward.
Replays showed Feilhaber briefly stood over Collin while he was on he ground, but it’s unclear what, if anything, was said between the two.
What is known is the effect it had on the game. With Sporting KC forced to play the rest of the game a man down, New England was able to dial up its aggressiveness and push the ball forward.
The Revolution, 2-2-3, eventually scored the game-winning goal in the 83rd minute, when midfielder Zak Boggs — who had way too much space and way too much time — sent in a pretty cross to midfielder Rajko Lekic, who beat Shavar Thomas (Collin’s replacement) to a spot in front of the goal and put a header past goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.
The goal put the nail in the coffin for Sporting KC, which is in the middle of a brutal 10-game road stretch to start the season. But the goal and the red card weren’t the only reasons for the loss. Spotty defense, particularly late, played a part, as well.
After all, Sporting KC outshot New England 17-13, had more shots on goal (5-3) and even led in the second half when forward Kei Kamara — who had already scored once in the game — drilled a penalty kick past Reis to give his team a 2-1 lead in the 69th minute.
Of course, it was short-lived. New England equalized in the 72nd minute as forward Shalrie Joseph beat Kamara on a header off a free kick.
“We didn’t do our job on the set piece,” Vermes said. “We didn’t do our job on the marking and we can’t let them score on that.”
But they did. And Collin’s red card came just four minutes later, turning a potential victory into another depressing defeat.