New England (1-0-0) at Kansas City (0-1-0), 9 p.m.
Kansas City, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - Sporting Kansas City will have all to do in the second leg of its Eastern Conference semifinal tie at Sporting Park on Wednesday as the club looks to overturn a one-goal deficit against the New England Revolution.
Kansas City suffered a 2-1 defeat to New England at Gillette Stadium on Saturday. It marks the second consecutive year that Sporting heads to its home ground in the conference semifinals needing to overturn a one-goal deficit.
History is not on Sporting's side as the club has been ousted from the postseason at home in the past two seasons, but the situation could have been much more dire.
New England grabbed a two-goal advantage on Saturday only to see Sporting climb back to within one thanks to a 69th-minute goal from Aurelien Collin.
"It's good. You don't always necessarily know if you're always going to win when you go away from home, but to keep the scoreline the way we did is great," said Sporting head coach Peter Vermes. "It wasn't frustrating at all. I thought we were really good playing away from home."
While Sporting aims to break its recent conference semifinal duck, New England will be attempting to clinch its first series win in the MLS Cup Playoffs since 2007.
A key piece in helping the Revs achieve that feat could be Matt Reis, who became the first goalkeeper in MLS history to go without a defeat in 10 or more starts when he posted a 7-0-4 record during the regular season.
"(Reis has) been huge all season," Revs defender Darrius Barnes said. "He made a huge save in the first half and then in the second half on Dom Dwyer. He's wise. He's a wise goalkeeper. I think he plays mind games with the attackers a little bit. When you have the experience of a keeper like that and he has the talent, it makes it easy for a defender."
With New England entering Wednesday's tilt with one foot in the Eastern Conference finals, it would not be surprising to see the club place a great deal emphasis on maintaining its slim advantage by remaining compact in defense, and that should be a familiar sight to Sporting after it was ousted from last year's postseason from a similar performance from the Houston Dynamo.
"We remember last year how Houston was dropping, dropping and defending. We expect the same thing from (New England)," Collin said. "It's always easier to score one goal than two goals, so it was very important to score that goal (at Gillette Stadium). Hopefully the league would be like Europe - when you score away, it would double. We're not there yet, so we just need to score a goal to tie it then score another one to win the semifinal."
Should the two sides finish regulation time level on aggregate, the match would go to two 15-minute overtime periods followed by penalty kicks, if necessary.