Foxborough, Mass. Andy Dorman and Kelyn Rowe scored in the second half to lead the New England Revolution to a 2-1 victory over Sporting Kansas City in the first leg of their Eastern Conference semifinals series on Saturday night.
Dorman put the Revolution on the scoreboard in the 55th minute, while Rowe made it 2-0 in the 67th.
Aurelien Collin pulled Sporting within one in the 69th.
“I thought it was a hard-fought battle between two teams fighting for everything,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. “It certainly wasn’t a pretty game, but (rather) two teams pushing hard and two teams trying to get ahead in the playoffs.”
The Revolution, appearing in the postseason for the first time since 2009, entered the match with a 501-minute regular season goal drought against Sporting Kansas City, a streak that reaches back to the 2011 season.
The Revolution spent much of the first half trying to find their rhythm and ending the streak.
“We played with a lot of discipline, and we were very well organized,” Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen said. “We forced their back four to play the long balls up to the striker, our center backs won the ball, and our midfielders were good on the second balls.
The Revolution had to survive an early scare before they were able to step on the gas. In the 18th minute, Graham Zusi’s corner kick found Chance Myers, who headed the ball toward the goal before Lee Nguyen cleared it off the line.
“Some games, we put two players on the post and sometimes, we put one player on the post,” Heaps said. “But tonight, we made the right call and put two players on the post.”
After a first half filled with erratic play from both teams, the Revolution were able to break through early in the second half. Diego Fagundez blasted a shot that was initially saved by Nielsen before the rebound fell to Juan Agudelo. The Revolution striker was able to direct on frame and Dorman tapped it through.
Rowe made it a two-goal advantage 12 minutes later when Nguyen slid it toward him and his touch redirected it into the back of the net.
Sporting struck back two minutes later. Amid a chaotic fight for the ball inside the Revolution box, Collin was able to steer C.J. Sapong’s ball into the net.
“I think we showed how strong this team is to come back, and that goal gave us a good life line,” Nielsen said.
The clubs will play the second leg of the series on Wednesday at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan. The team with the most aggregate goals in the two matches will advance to the conference finals against the winner of the New York-Houston matchup.