Lee Nguyen was the match-winner for the third week in a row as the New England Revolution came from behind to beat Sporting Kansas City 3-1 at Gillette Stadium.
Jermaine Jones assisted goals at both ends in the first half of his full Major League Soccer debut, with Soony Saad and Teal Bunbury the beneficiaries, before Nguyen’s brace defeated the MLS Cup champions for the second time this year.
Sporting are now just six points clear of their opponents, having played a game more, and may be out of the running for the Supporters’ Shield.
Keen to bounce back from some shaky recent form, Kansas City responded to early home pressure with a succession of dangerous set-pieces, taking the lead in the ninth minute.
Matt Besler launched a trademark long throw-in towards the Revolution area, and Jones unwittingly flicked the ball on to where Saad was waiting to nod in.
Seth Sinovic then twisted away from Andrew Farrell and shot at Bobby Shuttleworth, while Bunbury scuffed an effort from distance at the other end.
Lack of quality
The game continued at a startling pace, but a combination of sloppy passing and cut-throat challenges contributed to a midfield scrap, with little quality on show from either side. While a contest of this nature may not suit Nguyen’s majestic talents, a low drive from a poor clearance almost levelled the scores.
An equaliser was forthcoming on the stroke of half-time, however. Jones’ sublime cross-field ball was controlled by Bunbury, and after bundling past Seth Sinovic, the ex-Sporting forward’s strike was deflected beyond a static Andy Gruenebaum.
Jones was withdrawn at the break, but that did little to halt New England’s momentum, as Nguyen put the hosts ahead. Kelyn Rowe carried the ball forward and squared to the 27-year-old, who curled his 11th of the year into the far corner.
The former PSV Eindhoven midfielder forced Gruenebaum into a low save as the Revs threatened to race clear of their visitors, though Saad soon fizzed wide from Graham Zusi’s lay-off.
Jay Heaps’ men then had to sit tight as the Wizards attacked, but after some fine defensive action, rookie Patrick Mullins almost added another with a turn and blast from the edge of the area that was parried away.
There was to be a third, though, as Nguyen again produced the goods. The Massachusetts outfit countered, and their star turn lashed home Mullins’ pass to seal the three points.