A dull first half gave way to an exciting and nasty second, with the New England Revolution grabbing a 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City. Both teams will be reasonably satisfied with the result and will like their chances to advance heading into the second leg of the tie.
The first half featured very few chances going either way, with Peter Vermes' defensive lineup more or less achieving its goals. Teal Bunbury, making a surprise start for KC, had a couple of decent chances early but couldn't convert either. He missed just wide off a cross by Jacob Peterson in the 17th minute and shot right into Matt Reis' stomach on a one-on-one in the 34th minute in an otherwise uneventful second half.
It didn't take long for things to pick up in the second half. A much more ambitious Revs side, perhaps more equipped to deal with a physical and defensive Sporting team after the break, found their opener in the 54th minute. Diego Fagundez had his initial effort saved by Reis, but the ball bounced back off him and towards the goal. Andy Dorman had made a run forward from his defensive midfield position and got the final touch. A couple of Revs looked to be offside on the play, but Dorman was level with the last defender and no one else interfered with the play.
New England added another in impressive fashion in the 67th minute. Lee Nguyen found Kelyn Rowe on the edge of the box, where the UCLA product hit an impressive first-time shot with the outside of his foot to stun Kansas City. They appeared to be in the process of crumbling, but were gifted a way back into the tie two minutes later.
A bad foul on the edge of the Revs box by Dimitry Imbongo gave Sporting a set piece opportunity, which they capitalized on to grab a valuable goal heading home. They scored on a pinball effort, with Chance Myers firing a shot into traffic from 12 yards out. It hit off Lawrence Olum and fell to the back post for Aurelien Collin, who instinctively poked in.
With both teams fairly satisfied with the score and frustrated with each other, things got a bit more physical and less exciting for the final 20 minutes. Dom Dwyer forced a save from Reis in stoppage time in the last big chance of the game, keeping his side in front by one goal heading into the second leg.
New England: Reis, Barnes, Soares, Goncalves, Farrell, Dorman, Fagundez, Rowe (Barrett 85'), Nguyen, Imbongo (Caldwell 71'), Agudelo
Goals: Dorman (54'), Rowe (67')
Kansas City: Nielsen, Myers, Collin, Besler, Sinovic, Uri, Olum, Zusi, Sapong, Bunbury (Dwyer 77'), Peterson (Saad 70')
Goals: Collin (69')