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Revolution-Sporting Kansas City Preview

AP - Sports

Goals figure to be difficult to come by Saturday night when Sporting Kansas City hosts the New England Revolution.

These teams played to a scoreless draw the first time they met and boast outstanding goalkeepers heading into this key Eastern Conference clash.

New England's Bobby Shuttleworth is tied for the MLS lead with nine clean sheets while Kansas City's Jimmy Nielsen is tied for third with eight.

Nielsen didn't need to make a save in a March 23 draw at New England. Matt Reis was the Revolution's goalkeeper in that game, but Shuttleworth has established himself by starting all 19 matches since.

Nielsen and Sporting Kansas City (10-7-6) own a 412-minute scoreless streak against New England.

Sporting Kansas City is in second place in the East with 36 points and New England is in sixth with 30. The Revolution (8-8-6) have a game in hand as they try to win three straight on the road for the first time since a four-game run April 24-June 12, 2008.

Kansas City has committed a league-high 339 fouls with three players ranked in the top 23 in yellow cards compared to none for New England. The Revolution are 0-4-2 in their last six trips to Kansas City, finishing with 10 men three times.

"They overwhelm you is kind of the best way to describe it in terms of their pressure, in terms of intimidation, in terms of physicality, in terms of getting things to go their way," Revolution coach Jay Heaps said.

Sporting Kansas City held a 20-10 edge in fouls committed in the first meeting and picked up the only two yellow cards.

"We watch enough film on them so we know exactly what's coming," Revolution midfielder Stephen McCarthy said. "So you can either take it or you can give it back."

Kansas City stars Graham Zusi and Matt Besler missed the first matchup since they were with the United States national team.

Zusi's status this weekend is unclear after he missed last Saturday's 3-2 home defeat to New York with a sore right quad.

Coach Peter Vermes is without Paulo Nagamura (ankle sprain), and he could have some tired players after Sporting Kansas City went to Nicaragua and posted a 2-0 victory over Real Esteli in the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday.

Vermes rested Nielsen, Besler, Chance Myers and top scorer Claudio Bieler, but starters Seth Sinovic, Aurelien Collin and Oriol Rosell all played 90 minutes after also doing so last Saturday. Ike Opara and Dom Dwyer had the goals.

"We kept our composure," Vermes said. "We really focused and concentrated on playing our game. Everybody was alert and attentive to that."

Bieler is tied for fifth in MLS with nine goals.

New England is seeking a stronger start after conceding goals within the first eight minutes in its last two games, a 2-1 victory at D.C. United on July 27 and last Sunday's 1-0 home defeat to Toronto FC.

"It comes down to us as players starting the game well and making smart decisions off the bat and we definitely have to do that against a top team like Kansas City," defender Chris Tierney said.

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