Sporting Kansas City-Revolution Preview

The New England Revolution are hoping to become one of the

league’s dominant home teams in 2013.

They’ll get their first chance on Saturday when they host

Sporting Kansas City, which has already become familiar with the

role of the visitor in home openers this season.

The Revolution (1-0-1) will become the league’s final team to

play their home opener, and in doing so they eye even more

improvement at Gillette Stadium. They were 4-7-6 at home in 2011 –

the worst home record in MLS – then bettered that mark to 7-4-7

last season.

But that was still short of the success they’re aiming for. Nine

of the 10 teams to make the playoffs last year notched at least 10

home victories.

Thus, for New England to make its first playoff appearance since

2009, it will likely have to follow suit.

“It’s really crucial,” midfielder Lee Nguyen told the team’s

official website. “If we can win (at home), it’s going to be a lot

easier for us to make the playoffs. It’s going to be a lot harder

to get points away from home. We want to be a fortress.”

Meanwhile, Sporting KC (1-1-1) is trying to carry over its road

success from last season as its eight victories away from home were

the second most in the league.

Two of the team’s first three matches have already seen them

play visitor in opponents’ home openers.

They split those games with a 3-1 win at Philadelphia followed

by a 2-1 defeat at Toronto. Sporting also played to a scoreless

draw at home with Chicago last week.

“We’ve all played games now,” coach Pete Vermes said. “We’re

going to just have to get on with the season, right? So it’s

interesting how it (the schedule) started this year, but we’re

ready to go.”

New England is hoping its home field can help wake up the

offense after scoring one goal through its first two matches. But

that could be challenging with forward Jerry Bengtson – who scored

the lone goal – not available on Saturday as he plays with Honduras

in World Cup qualifying matches.

Goalkeeper Matt Reis is also questionable with a groin injury

after missing last week’s 1-0 loss at Philadelphia. He was replaced

by Bobby Shuttleworth, who made two saves in the defeat.

Saturday will mark midfielder Benny Feilhaber’s return to New

England after he was traded to Sporting in the offseason in

exchange for allocation money as well as the Revolution’s

first-round pick in the 2014 draft and a second-round pick in

2015.

New England was scoreless in three meetings last season, with

Sporting claiming two wins and the other ending in a draw.