The Revolution have succeeded in ruffling the feathers of Sporting Kansas City.
Since they took Game One of the Eastern Conference semifinals, 2-1, last Saturday night at Gillette Stadium, Kansas City's players and staff have been fuming over the controversial, yet seemingly correct, officiating decision on the Revolution's first goal.
"Those things will be dealt with over the course of the match," Kansas City coach Peter Vermes told reporters on Tuesday, referring to referees' control of the game. "There's no doubt about it in my mind.”
“We're going to have to take matters into our own hands [if necessary].“It's for you to watch the game and see. It's not for me to talk about those things, because our players are fully aware what they've got to do. In this one, I'm not tipping my hand or anything. We're going to this game to be very hungry to go play, and we'll see," he added.
With Game Two set for Wednesday night at Sporting Park in Missouri, Kansas City is looking to replace the result from a few nights ago with a win.
Not that a win will be enough. If Kansas City lead the Revolution by one goal at the end of Wednesday night's game, they'll have to go to extra time. Only a victory by two or more goals would see Kansas City move to the Conference Finals to play either New York or Houston. Meanwhile, all the Revolution have to do is tie.
Statistics would suggest that this is easier said than done. Even though the Revolution are currently riding a seven-game unbeaten run, Kansas City has only lost four times at home this year. The Revolution have also only ever scored one goal at Sporting Park. Kansas City's defense, which allowed 30 goals this year, was the strongest in the league.
And yet, the Revolution have at least one key advantage.
Psychologically, they won't be shaken.
Listening to Revolution Head Coach Jay Heaps all season, it's clear that he and his team won't focus on the extraneous. Since he was hired as coach nearly two years ago, Heaps has never talked to the press about drama. He has never shared gossip or name-called. He has only talked about tactics and how to unlock the challenges of his team's next opponent. His players seem to have bought into that approach, too.
That doesn't mean they won't take into account Kansas City's quality or Sporting Park's hostile environment. But it does suggest that the Revolution have the mental strength to earn a result.
“In this series, it’s like we’re at halftime,” said Revolution goalkeeper Reis. “So we are up 2-1 at halftime and the more goals we have, the more pressure we can put on them. It’s great for us. It’s going to be a tough task going in there and getting a result, but I like our chances.”
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