The New England Revolution made it all happen in the first half last night. Sporting Kansas City came flying out of the blocks after the break but to no avail. A brace from Austrian forward Giacomo Vrioni keeps this impressive run going and leaves SKC wanting once again.
Giacomo Vrioni Makes the Difference at Gillette
A Game of Two Halves
After 45 minutes, the Revolution looked as if they had three points all but wrapped up. Two neat finishes by Giacomo Vrioni fired the hosts into a strong lead. It was like night and day after the break for both teams though, at the expense of the Revs. Head Coach Bruce Arena was livid with the second-half performances across the board.
“We could’ve done everything better the second half, from the start to the finish. It started where guys are standing around, not moving to the ball, not communicating, and it ends up with a breakaway that we can’t even convert. So, it was just a real sloppy second half. Very disappointed in that.”
“Good first half. Crappy second half.” – Bruce Arena#NERevs
— Jeff Lemieux (@jeff_lemieux) April 23, 2023
The game-changer Giacomo Vrioni led the line from the start once again whereas behind him on the pitch, Arena made a few changes. Emmanuel Boateng was the benefactor of Dylan Borrero’s suspension and he grasped the opportunity, assisting the first goal and playing a major role in the second.
Alongside Boateng, Noel Buck and Christian Makoun entered the fray. The duo replaced Latif Blessing and DeJuan Jones respectively with neither making the gameday squad. Blessing’s absence was due to him bringing his family over to the States. On the importance of the close-knit feel and helping players off of the field, Arena said the following. “We try to do that every day around the club. Latif [Blessing] is going to be very happy to have his family here with him in Boston.”
Is Giacomo Vrioni Winning the Striker Battle?
New England had a weakened bench at their disposal for this one and within this, Giacomo Vrioni took advantage. Justin Rennicks was the only other forward amongst the substitutes and in the absence of Bobby Wood, Gustavo Bou and Jozy Altidore, Vrioni made it count.
The 24-year-old spoke of how it feels to be trusted to lead the line. “When you get a lot of minutes to play, it’s better for a striker. But I have to continue to work every day in training because I know I can do a better job.”
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 23, 2023
This brace takes Vrioni into the lead in the Revolution’s scoring charts, leaving four players on two goals in his wake. On the other side of the field, there have only been three goals scored by SKC this season and opening his account for 2023 last night was the inevitable Scotsman, Johnny Russell.
Russell’s goal and the red card for Spanish centre-back Andreu Fontas made for an entertaining second-half. SKC were battling to add to that measly points tally but were unable to find that elusive equalizer. Next up for both are their respective third-round clashes in the U.S. Open Cup with Peter Vermes’ side facing Tulsa Athletic and the Revs hosting Hartford Athletic.
Featured image credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports, taken Apr 22, 2023.