Sporting KC

New England strikes late to defeat Sporting KC 3-1

Sporting Kansas City defender Kevin Ellis lay flat on his stomach, his head buried into the wet turf inside Gillette Stadium. On a night that looked promising only minutes earlier — a night that looked as if Sporting KC might garner a positive road result for the second consecutive weekend — this was instead the lasting image.

New England tallied a pair of late goals — one of them credited as an own goal to Ellis — and it dealt Sporting KC a 3-1 defeat Saturday.

“This game’s on me,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said in a phone interview. “It’s my responsibility on this one. We didn’t play to our standard, and I think it has a lot to do with some decisions I made.”

The ramifications will take shape over the final three weeks of the regular season. For now, Sporting KC, 12-13-7, concluded the match in fifth place in the Western Conference with only a two-point cushion in the race for one of the six playoff spots. Seventh-place Portland was scheduled for a later match Saturday.

On Saturday, Vermes attributed the club’s first-half struggles to his tactical maneuvering, and former Sporting KC forward Kei Kamara responded with an early goal to give the Revolution a 1-0 lead.

After Dom Dwyer pulled Sporting KC even four minutes into the second half, it was another self-inflicted mistake — albeit an incidental one — that gave the Revolution the lead once again. In the 75th minute, New England midfielder Lee Nguyen took a shot that deflected off the post before hitting Ellis’ shin, which redirected the ball into the net. Juan Agudelo put the finishing touches on the Revolution victory in the 83rd minute.

In the end, it was a deserving result anyway for the Revolution, which outshot Sporting KC 15-8. Sporting KC managed only one shot on goal: Dwyer’s goal in the 49th minute to tie the match.

“I thought in the first half we struggled. It’s my fault. I changed a little bit of what we did, and I think we weren’t in a good rhythm,” Vermes said. “We were a little out of sorts.”

Kamara jump-started the scoring fewer than four minutes into the match. After skating past the Sporting KC defense, he beat goalkeeper Tim Melia, who had darted off his line to challenge the move. Melia made three saves.

Kamara was making his second appearance against Sporting KC since he departed the club in September 2013 for an overseas opportunity. After only one season in Europe, he returned to MLS last season by joining the Columbus Crew, but he was traded to the Revolution in May after a rift with a teammate.

Sporting KC did not test Revolution keeper Brad Knighton in the first half, but that changed shortly after halftime, with Dwyer needing only four minutes to put a ball across the goal line.

Dwyer has scored in four straight matches, increasing his team-leading goal total to 16. He has 50 goals over the last three seasons.