KANSAS CITY, Kan. Converted defensive midfielder Birahim Diop scored two goals and added one assist in his first career appearance at forward, while Kei Kamara registered one goal and two assists as the Kansas City Wizards claimed a crucial 4-1 win over the New England Revolution on Saturday night at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
Diop scored the games first two goals within the opening 30 minutes on the first two shots of his MLS career before Kenny Mansallys third goal of the season briefly cut the deficit to 2-1 going into the halftime break. Kamara stretched the lead to 3-1 in the 65th minute, however, before Jack Jewsbury put the result beyond doubt with the Wizards fourth goal in the 69th minute.
With the loss, the Revs (6-11-3, 21 pts.) finished their two-game road trip with zero points after a 2-1 setback to the Chicago Fire on Wednesday night. Prior to this road swing, the Revolution was on an eight-game unbeaten streak in all competitions. Meanwhile, the Wizards (6-9-5, 23 pts.) are now 3-1-2 in their last six games and have leapfrogged the Revs in the Eastern Conference standings.
New Englands road woes continued, as the club is now 1-8-1 away from Gillette Stadium this season. The loss also extended the Revolutions winless run against the Wizards to six games (0-5-1), dating back to 2008.
The Revs began the match in a 3-5-2 formation for the first time this season, a notable departure from the customary 4-4-2 setup. In addition to the formation switch, head coach Steve Nicol also made two personnel changes following Wednesday nights loss in Chicago; Khano Smith and Mansally came into the side, while Chris Tierney and Emmanuel Osei went to the bench. Both Kevin Alston (L hamstring strain) and Cory Gibbs (L ankle sprain) overcame minor injuries to keep their places on the backline, although Alston was replaced by Osei in the 39th minute after re-aggravating his strained hamstring.
Kansas City pressed from the opening whistle and it took a fantastic save from Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis to keep the game scoreless in the third minute. English winger Ryan Smith burst into the left side of the box and released a low shot, but Reis charged off his line to smother the attempt.
Reis early save only served to delay the opening goal, however, as the Wizards took a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute through Diop. Kamara played a clever ball over the top of the Revs backline to spring Diop, who narrowly beat the offside trap before calmly slotting a left-footed shot past the onrushing Reis.
Diop doubled the Wizards advantage in the 27th minute, out-jumping Alston on a back-post header and directing his effort inside the left post. Kamara was the set-up man once again, receiving a throw-in down the right wing and wriggling free of Barnes to deliver the killer ball into the box.
Despite being outplayed through much of the first half, the Revs pulled one back in the 37th minute to cut the deficit to 2-1 heading into the break. Smiths charging run down the left wing finished with a well-placed cross into the feet of Mansally, who used two touches to release a shot from the left side of the box. Mansallys effort was deflected by Wizards defender Jimmy Conrad on its way toward goal, giving Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen no chance.
The Revolution had a great chance to equalize in the 56th minute when Marko Perovic was given the opportunity to stand over a free kick on the left wing. Perovics service to the back post found Shalrie Joseph, who headed the ball back toward the penalty spot. The ball fell to Gibbs 12 yards from goal, but the defenders effort was blasted over the bar.
New England was left to rue its missed chance as Diop and Kamara combined to score the Wizards third goal in the 65th minute. Diop was the provider on this occasion, slipping a low cross from the right wing into the path of Kamara, who used a clever finish to guide the ball under Reis.
The hosts made it 4-1 just four minutes later, taking advantage of a mistake at the back by Osei. The Ghanaian defender misplayed a back-pass to Reis, who was forced to charge off his line under pressure from Smith. Reis got to the ball but could only play it into the path of Jewsbury, who finished into the empty net from 20 yards out.
It couldve been five in the 77th minute if not for a fantastic save by Reis, who stuffed Jewsbury after he was played through on goal by Davy Arnaud, but the save merely limited the damage on a night the Revolution would like to forget.
With their two-game road trip complete, the Revs will now return home for their next three games, beginning with a visit from the expansion Philadelphia Union on Saturday, Aug. 28. Kickoff from Gillette Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m.
With the loss, the Revs dropped their regular-season record against the Wizards to 11-20-8 overall, and 6-10-3 in Kansas City it was New Englands third straight loss at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
For the first time in 2010, the Revs deployed a 3-5-2 formation to start the game, using a backline of Kevin Alston, Cory Gibbs and Darrius Barnes Khano Smith slotted into the left midfield spot with Shalrie Joseph and Pat Phelan patrolling the central midfield, while Sainey Nyassi was on the right wing Marko Perovic was in the playmaking spot ahead of the midfield, while Iljia Stolica and Kenny Mansally were up front.
Kenny Mansally made his third start of the season, all three at forward
Khano Smith returned to the starting lineup for the fifth time this season and for the fourth time at left midfield.
The Revs surrendered more than one goal in back-to-back games in MLS games for the first time since May 29 (3-2 win over New York) and June 5 (3-0 loss at Seattle) on Wednesday, the Revs surrendered two goals at Chicago in the 2-1 loss.
Kenny Mansally scored his third goal of the season, and his first since he potted two goals in the second match of the year on April 3 at D.C. he went 17 scoreless games between his tallies.
Khano Smith registered his first assist of 2010 on Kenny Mansallys goal, and his 12th career regular-season assist in MLS.
The Revolution has scored at least one goal in five straight MLS games, a season high including all competitions, the Revs are on a 10-match scoring streak.
The loss marked the third time this season the Revs gave up four or more goals in MLS action the team surrendered four goals in a 4-0 loss on May 5 against Chivas USA and five goals in 5-0 loss at Real Salt Lake on July 2.
Kevin Alston departed the game in the 39th minute with a left hamstring strain.