ROCHESTER, N.Y. – New England did not need any additional complications on this midweek trip to central New York. In the spirit of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, they arrived during the second half anyways.
The visitors did most of the hard work in this 5-1 third-round victory over USL Pro side Rochester Rhinos before the lightning and the rain forced referee Robert Sibiga to clear the field in the 53rd minute. They scored twice – including an early goal from Kelyn Rowe and a vital strike from Andy Dorman just moments before the stoppage – before entering the locker room for a 52-minute delay.
Rowe said the unexpected break threw a tricky hurdle in the Revs' path as they worked their way toward a fourth-round date against New York or Reading United A.C. at Harvard Univ. on June 12.
“It was a good team win and it was definitely a mental challenge for us,” Rowe told MLSsoccer.com. “Those 30 minutes in the locker room, you had to cool back down and then warm back up – or keep yourself warm, whatever you preferred. It's a mental challenge.”
Revolution coach Jay Heaps noted the difficulty of the situation – he said he suffered through a similar delay during career – and placed particular emphasis on how his players treated their bodies during the waiting period.
Heaps needed his players to persevere because he had used all of his substitutions before the electrical storm halted play at Sahlen's Stadium. He trusted his players and his staffers to ensure they could find a way to navigate through the remainder of the match without serious incident.
“We had to be really professional with how we warmed up – that's why we have (strength and conditioning coach) Nick Downing, to get them going,” Heaps said. “(Andy) Dorman pulled up with a cramp. That was it.”
The tidy work during the break yielded benefits on the field. Jerry Bengtson essentially booked a spot in the next round by snatching the third a minute after play resumed. Rowe and Chad Barrett scored either side of a Kendell McFayden tally to ensure the delay did not sidetrack the Revs from their quest or their recent uptick in form.
“Winning's a habit,” Rowe said after his side claimed a third straight victory in all competitions. “We're going to keep it as long as we can.”