By TATE STEINLAGE
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The New England Revolution continue to find ways to beat Sporting Kansas City this season.
A frantic, unpredictable match Friday that saw New England surge early and relinquish a 2-0 lead was capped off by a Jermaine Jones game-winner in the dying minutes of the match, as the Revolution captured a critical 3-2 conference victory.
Jones’ 85th-minute strike silenced a massive two-goal comeback in the second half led by Sporting KC’s Paulo Nagamura, who tallied a goal and an assist in a two-minute span.
Kelyn Rowe and Jose Goncalves added goals in the first half to round out what was a terrific night for manager Jay Heaps’ squad, which previously hadn’t won in Kansas City since 2008.
“We were just looking at this as a regular season game,” Heaps said after the match. “We have nothing but respect for Kansas City and this organization because to me they’re the premier club right now, coming off being champs and having this stadium and the way they play here.
“I think it was good for us to get some confidence coming here, because our season ended here last year, so getting some confidence here is good. But at the same time there’s a lot of football to be played and the Eastern Conference is really tight so every game is just us focusing on getting up the table.”
With the result, the Revs (14-13-3, 45 points) move up to a tie in points with Sporting KC (13-11-6, 45 points) in the Eastern Conference. On a goal differential tie-breaker, Sporting KC currently has the edge.
The Revolution took the early lead 22 minutes in after Sporting KC missed on three scoring chances early. Defender Kevin Alston found Kelyn Rowe on excellent cross aimed at the back post and the midfielder was able to volley an attempt across the face of goalkeeper Eric Kronberg into the side netting.
Twelve minutes later, Sporting KC all but gift-wrapped New England its second goal. Midfielder Paulo Nagamura lost possession near the Revolution penalty area and centerback Jose Goncalves took it upon himself to run 80 yards and put away a well-taken effort.
New England carried the 2-0 lead into the halftime break, as well as a 7-1 goalscoring advantage through five halves versus the reigning MLS Cup champions in 2014.
But that lead would dwindle quickly after the break thanks in part to the play of Nagamura. The Brazilian pulled the home team within one goal in the 55th minute and then assisted forward Dom Dwyer moments later to even the match at 2-2.
“He is a winner,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said of Nagamura. “When you got winners on the field, they don’t give up. He is just a winner. A couple years ago, he scored the game-winner for us in the Open Cup on his penalty kick. He takes two of them and sticks it in. He is a winner. That’s why those guys are valuable for teams.”
Sporting KC looked poised to steal three points late with the momentum on their side but Jones’ heroics — a 25-yard blast in the 85th minute — ended what was a disappointing night for the sold-out Sporting Park crowd.
“Both Kansas City games (that I played in), the two teams were fighting each other for 90 minutes,” Jones said. “That is how we won this game. Kansas City is a good team and we have a lot of respect for them, but we have to trust in ourselves that we have a good team too.”
The 3-2 result is New England’s sixth win in seven games. The Revolution will look to continue their winning ways next Saturday at home against Columbus. Sporting KC will look to bounce back in seven days on the road against D.C. United.
Here are the match highlights: