Open Cup quest begins tonight in Harrisburg

Revs to visit City Islanders in a third-round showdown

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The New England Revolution begins its 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup campaign on Tuesday, May 29, when the MLS side visits the Harrisburg City Islanders (USL PRO) for a third-round meeting at the Skyline Sports Complex.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and fans can follow the action via live streaming audio on revolutionsoccer.net.

The winner of Tuesday night’s game will advance to the competition’s fourth round, where they’ll meet either the New York Red Bulls (MLS) or Charleston Battery (USL PRO) on Tuesday, June 5.

Current Form: Road woes continue for Revolution; Harrisburg winners of three straight

The Revs (4-7-1, 13 pts.) arrived in the capital of Pennsylvania on Monday afternoon, traveling directly from Washington, D.C., following this past weekend’s 3-2 loss to D.C. United. It was a result which dropped the Revolution’s road record to 1-6-0 on the season as the club slipped to seventh place in the Eastern Conference despite a valiant second-half comeback attempt at RFK Stadium.

Harrisburg (3-1-3, 12 pts.) enters Tuesday night’s showdown riding a five-game unbeaten streak (3-0-2) in all competitions, including last week’s 2-0 win over the Long Island Rough Riders (PDL) in the second round of the Open Cup. The City Islanders haven’t conceded a goal in their past four matches – not since a 2-2 draw with the Richmond Kickers on May 12 – and they’ve ridden that defensive form into fourth place in USL PRO.

Past Meetings: Clubs have split a pair of previous U.S. Open Cup meetings

Tuesday night’s match will be the third meeting between the Revs and City Islanders – all in the U.S. Open Cup and all since 2007 – but this will be the first time the teams have met in Pennsylvania.

New England eliminated Harrisburg in the quarterfinal round of the 2007 Open Cup, riding early goals from Andy Dorman and Taylor Twellman to a 2-1 victory at Gillette Stadium before eventually going on to win the competition two months later. The City Islanders earned a measure of revenge in 2009, however, knocking the Revs out in the third round with a 2-1 win in extra time at Veterans Stadium in New Britain, Conn.

Injury Report: Core group returns to Foxborough following Saturday night game in D.C.

With just two days between Saturday night’s league match at RFK Stadium and Tuesday night’s Open Cup contest at Skyline Sports Complex, many of the Revolution’s starters from this past weekend’s meeting with D.C. returned to Foxborough instead of traveling to Harrisburg.

Captain Shalrie Joseph, goalkeeper Matt Reis, leading goal scorer Saer Sène and center back A.J. Soares were amongst the group who returned to New England, but Blake Brettschneider, Benny Feilhaber, Stephen McCarthy and Lee Nguyen all traveled to Harrisburg after starting against United. All three players who saw substitute action at RFK Stadium – Fernando Cardenas, Jose Moreno and Kelyn Rowe – also made the trip to Pennsylvania.

“A lot of guys who haven’t been getting a lot of first team minutes are going to get a chance to play tomorrow,” said versatile defender Darrius Barnes. “We’ve just got to go out there and leave it all on the field and kind of create that winning culture that we’re trying to create throughout the whole organization. It’s important for guys to go out there and perform.”

Key Player: Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth

With defenders Kevin Alston, Chris Tierney and Soares not on the Harrisburg trip, New England’s backline will take on a different look on Tuesday night. It’ll be up to fourth-year goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth to marshal the young defensive unit against a City Islanders side which has scored seven goals in its past three games.

“The longer we allow them to stay in the game, the more strength they’re going to gain and the harder it’s going to be for us to get a result,” said Shuttleworth, who has started each of the Revolution’s past three Open Cup games. “It’s the type of thing where we’ve got to come out from the first whistle and show why we’re an MLS team and why these players are playing at the level that we’re playing at.”

Final Thoughts: Hungry Harrisburg side likely to rise to the occasion

“It’s definitely a challenge when you’re playing a team that’s seen as below you, but we know it’s not going to be an easy game,” said Barnes. “They’re going to come out here and challenge and they’re going to put pressure on us … We’re going to have to come out here, withstand the first 15 minutes when they’re coming out flying and after that we’re going to have to try to put the ball on the ground and play as much as we can.”