For the fourth time this year, the Red Bulls will be playing against a team it had previously played against within two weeks. With any luck, the results of this one will be better than the others.
It’s been a long time since we last spoke, but we were able to catch up with Jake Catanese of The Bent Musket to give us some insight as to what we can expect from this game between the Red Bulls and the New England Revolution:
1. It has been fairly easy for our teams to justify playing backup squads in the Open Cup until now, but now that we're in the Quarter-Finals the stakes are so much higher. Do you think Jay Heaps will play a similar lineup to the one he used in the last two MLS games, or one more similar to the second-string team that beat D.C. United in the Open Cup Round of 16? (Thanks for that by the way)
Unless Kelyn Rowe shows up early from the Gold Cup, I have a feeling that the Revs will trot out the exact same lineup from last week. Scott Caldwell will fill in for Rowe in the central midfield and Teal Bunbury will start next to Kei Kamara up top. The downside of having three players at the Gold Cup and a few injuries means the Revs are a little short on the bench. Daigo Kobayashi would be a good option if he's healthy to cover for Je-Vaughn Watson and Rowe in the midfield as well as homegrown Zachary Herivaux. I don't think Xavier Kouassi will be available having just started full training after a quad injury that kept him out for over a month but could he maybe get a 10 minute shift to close out the game. Femi Hollinger-Janzen and rookie Brian Wright will be the main striker options with Bunbury already in the starting lineup.
2. In the past ten years the Revs have won an Open Cup, been to the Final twice, the Semi-Finals three times and the Quarter-Finals six times. What's the secret to the Revs' success in the tournament?
Since the start of the year, the Revs fan base has been highly critical of the short roster of just 24 players and rightly so. The Revs dressed only five outfield players on the bench against DC United last round but despite that issue, the Revs over the years have usually had some solid players for their USOC games. Kelyn Rowe was a utility player years ago but got valuable minutes in the Cup and bossed around games like a veteran. Teal Bunbury works his butt off whenever he's on the field and helped the Revs rally against the NY Cosmos on the road last year. Zachary Herivaux was the hero with a stoppage time laser in Carolina before that.
I don't think there's any real secret for the Revs in the Open Cup. All you really have to do is avoid the third round upset, something the Revs have been pretty good at save for a 1-0 loss to the USL's Charlotte Independence a few years back. I think the new regional system also helps out the Revs because they tend to play teams they're familiar with and it limits travel. The run of home games this year in particular also has to be a bonus.
3. How will the atmosphere at the Harvard venue differ from our usual battleground and how have the Revs typically performed there?
I think playing at a smaller venue is the best part of the Open Cup. The crowd won't be as numerous but it the proximity to the field should keep the overall atmosphere very boisterous. We already talked about the Revs success in the USOC recently and I think some of that has to do with the home venues. Jordan Field in Harvard, Providence College and Brown University have hosted games as well as New Britain, CT a decade ago when the Revs won it all.
One of my favorite Revs games ever was the USOC win at the New York Cosmos in 2016. It was played at St. John's soccer stadium in Queens, which is a turf field/stadium on top of a parking garage. You can't get more Open Cup than that. Teal Bunbury scored a goal that if he had missed had a decent chance of decapitating half the traveling Revs supporters because that's how close we were to the field.
INJURIES: Xavier Kouassi (QUESTIONABLE - left quad), Daigo Kobayashi (PROBABLE - hamstring)
INT'L DUTY: Juan Agudelo (USA), Kelyn Rowe (USA), Je-Vaughn Watson (JAM)
PREDICTED XI (4-4-2 Diamond): Cody Cropper; Chris Tierney, Benjamin Angoua, Antonio Delamea, Andrew Farrell; Gershon Koffie, Diego Fagundez, Scott Caldwell, Lee Nguyen; Teal Bunbury, Kei Kamara
FINAL SCORE PREDICTION:
I think the Revs do get their revenge, but it will take extra time. 3-2 to New England.
Be sure to follow Jake Catanese at The Bent Musket and check out our answers to his three questions before the big game!