BOYDS, Md. – Just three days after the club’s thrilling, come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Sporting Kansas City in league action at Gillette Stadium, the New England Revolution begins its 2011 U.S. Open Cup campaign on Tuesday, April 26, with a play-in match against D.C. United at Maryland SoccerPlex.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. and fans can follow the action via live streaming audio on revolutionsoccer.net.
The winner of Tuesday night’s game will travel to face Sporting KC in the final round of MLS play-in matches, with the right to join the formal U.S. Open Cup bracket on the line.
Current Form: New-look Revs confident following emotional win
Last weekend’s win over Sporting KC snapped the Revolution’s two-game losing streak and lifted the club into a three-way tie for third place in the Eastern Conference. Benny Feilhaber was impressive in his debut – recording an assist after just 12 minutes – and sparked a Revolution attack which received goals from Marko Perovic, Shalrie Joseph and Rajko Lekic.
“I think the pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together,” said goalkeeper Matt Reis. “You can see what we can do. It’s just a matter of everybody getting on the same page.”
D.C. United advanced to this round of U.S. Open Cup play-in matches with a penalty shootout victory over the Philadelphia Union on April 6, but Ben Olsen’s side has had mixed results since. A dramatic 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy was followed by an impressive 3-0 road win over Toronto FC, but United most recently suffered a comprehensive 4-0 home loss at the hands of the New York Red Bulls last Thursday night.
Past Meetings: Joseph lifted Revs to victory over United in 2011 home opener
Joseph scored the game-winning goal from the penalty spot after assisting on Zack Schilawski’s opener, as the Revolution earned a 2-1 win over United on March 26 at Gillette Stadium. The victory was New England’s fourth straight over D.C. in the regular season dating back to the final meeting of 2009.
Joseph will not be the hero on Tuesday night, however, as the Revolution’s captain did not travel to our Nation’s Capital while head coach Steve Nicol aims to strike a balance between league and cup play. Several other Revs players, including Feilhaber (who is still getting settled in Boston) and Reis (who is coming off an adductor strain) remained in Foxborough to prepare for the West Coast road trip and Saturday’s match against Chivas USA.
Injury Report: Injuries not a factor for either side on this occasion
While the Revs will give some of their normal starters an opportunity to rest on Tuesday night, the club won’t be largely limited by injuries. Pat Phelan was unavailable for this past weekend’s victory over Kansas City because of headaches, while Perovic left Saturday’s match in the 60th minute with a sprained left knee. Perovic didn’t travel to D.C., although his injury isn’t thought to be serious.
Four players are listed as “Out” on D.C. United’s latest injury report, with goalkeeper Steve Cronin (L wrist fracture) and defender Jed Zayner (L hamstring strain) the most notable names on the list. It was reported on Monday afternoon that veteran netminder Pat Onstad – who came out of retirement after joining D.C. as the club’s goalkeepers coach this past offseason – will once again step between the pipes on Tuesday night.
Key Player: Revolution central midfielder Ousmane Dabo
After missing the first six games of the season with a right quad strain, Ousmane Dabo was available on the Revolution’s bench for the first time this past weekend, although he didn’t see any action. Dabo is in the squad for Tuesday night’s game and will likely start in central midfield, with Nicol calling the match a “perfect situation” for the 34-year-old Frenchman to raise his fitness level.
Previous stints at Lazio and Manchester City have proven Dabo’s quality, and he’ll have his first chance to display that ability in a Revolution jersey on Tuesday night.
Final Thoughts: Young guns to get their shot
With a group of usual starters back in Foxborough, many of the Revolution’s younger players will be given the chance to shine at Maryland SoccerPlex. Included in the travel party is 16-year-old Home Grown Player Diego Fagundez, who put in a 66-minute performance against D.C. United’s reserves on March 26.
Also in the squad are rookies Ryan Kinne and Alan Koger, plus 18-year-old offseason signing Michael Augustine, so the Revolution’s fate on Tuesday night could be decided by how much the club’s youth steps up.