The Revolution can’t seem to break their habit of surrendering leads. But after allowing Sporting Kansas City to equalize while playing at a numerical disadvantage, the Revolution recovered to take a 2-1 victory Sunday.
Emmanuel Boateng provided the deciding goal in the 87th minute as the Revolution (5-5-4, 19 points) improved their unbeaten streak to six games (3-0-3) in steamy conditions at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City.
Gustavo Bou opened the scoring in the 31st minute, just before the first of four water breaks ordered by referee Chris Penso. Sporting (3-9-4, 13 points) lost midfielder Uri Rosell to a second caution in the 48th minute, but tied the score on Johnny Russell’s 51st-minute free kick.
With space opening up, mostly due to the high 80-degree temperatures and SKC’s shorthanded situation, the Revolution went to a two-forward setup, Jozy Altidore joining Bou up front in the 61st minute. After several assaults on goal, the Revolution broke through as Boateng finished a Bou rebound.
Bou scored from the run of play for the first time since last season, finishing from close range after taking down a chipped pass from Dylan Borrero. Bou was held onside by Kortne Ford, who ended up out of position, as Borrero’s lob went over Robert Volader. Bou controlled near the penalty spot and fired past Tim Melia, the sequence was set up as Omar Gonzalez blocked a shot, leading to a counterattack.
On the deciding score, Bou’s blast from outside the penalty area was blocked by Melia, who also deflected Boateng’s follow, the ball bouncing in just ahead of Andreu Fontas’s attempt to clear off the line.
Penso ordered four two-minute water breaks and allowed six minutes (first half) and seven minutes (second half) of stoppage time. Bou scored seconds before the second break in the action as the Revolution, who play host to Orlando City SC Wednesday, took the lead in a match for the ninth successive time (4-2-3).
“Games in the summer months in our league should not be played in the afternoon,” Revolution sporting director/head coach Bruce Arena said. “Really difficult for both teams. The heat, humidity was really challenging today. It made for a bit of a slow and sloppy game. But, you know, I give their team credit. When they went down to 10 men, I thought for 15 minutes, they played very well and had advantages on us. And then I think over the last 15-20 minutes of the game, we played pretty well, and created some chances, but were sloppy with our chances and got a bit of an ugly goal, which we’re going to take. It’s an important 3 points on the road.”
Observations from Sunday’s game:
▪ The deciding score was set up as Matt Polster and Arnor Traustason combined to take possession off Shelton on an SKC throw-in. Shelton probably sold the foul on Andrew Farrell leading to Russell’s free kick early in the second half, but Penso did not bite this time. Gil then found Boateng, who passed to Bou, and continued his run to finish. “You know, playing with Gustavo for the last year and a half, I know his tendencies,” Boateng said. “Especially if he drifts out to the left and he cuts it inside, you know he’s taking a shot. He hits some pretty powerful shots so I just took a chance on it knowing if he gets a touch on it, I will be there for the rebound. So, I just read it. I knew Gustavo coming in was going to take a shot, and just be there for the rebound.”
▪ Talking about the SKC goal, which went past a diving Djordje Petrović, Arena said: “As [Petrović] gets a little bit more experience and a little better technically, he’s probably going to make saves on that free kick. It was a very good free kick, don’t get me wrong. We were the team fouled, by the way, on that call, which was interesting. So, probably a poor call, but give them credit. It turned into a goal for them.” Petrović saved a Russell shot (66th), a minute after Roger Espinosa’s attempt went just wide as the Revolution thought offside should have been called.
▪ Bou’s aggressiveness paid off both offensively — he outmanuevered the SKC back line for a goal and created shots from distance; and defensively — his tackle from behind on Remi Walter resulting in a caution (seventh minute) but also leading to Walter departing with an injury in the 33d minute. SKC central defender Kortne Ford seemed to be retaliating as he forearmed Bou, earning a yellow card (34th). SKC coach Peter Vermes replaced Ford after halftime, likely concerned that another caution would mean an ejection. Vermes stayed with Rosell, who had been cautioned for a foul on Wilfrid Kaptoum in the second minute of first-half injury time, then was ejected in the fourth minute of the second half, taking down Gil from behind on a throw-in. Bou scored from the run of play for the first time since a 3-2 win at D.C. United on Oct. 21.
▪ The Revolution are facing a key stretch — matches against Orlando City SC and Minnesota United in the next seven days, taking the season within a game of the halfway point. Last year, the season started in late April, and the Revolution compiled an 8-3-3 record after their 14th game on July 17.
▪ Boateng scored for the first time this season in a blizzard as the Revolution squandered a two-goal lead in the 3-2 loss to Real Salt Lake in March. “It’s tough conditions and, being down a man, we knew the longer this game goes, it’s an advantage for us,” Boateng said. “We knew we were going to create chances and we just had to take it. And we were just being aggressive, creating a lot of chances. So, we felt good, as the game went on, that we would have a clean shot of putting it away.”
▪ In the second half, the Revolution squandered several chances. It started with Gil being stripped with four teammates in the penalty area, SKC capitalizing on the counter as Khiry Shelton earned the tying free kick. Tommy McNamara’s close-in shot on a breakaway was kick-saved for a corner (54th); Borrero failed to get off a shot on a 3-on-3 break (61st); McNamara (69th) and DeJuan Jones (85th) had open attempts go wide from inside the penalty area; Bou had tries deflected for a corner (79th) and saved (80th); Altidore headed wide off a Brandon Bye cross (80th); plus an added time 3-on-1 counter, Gil failing to get a shot, and a Traustason miss off an Altidore layoff.
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at email@example.com.