RICHMOND, Va. – It wasn’t always pretty. It didn’t need to be.
Stephen McCarthy, Steve Neumann and Patrick Mullins scored before halftime to help the New England Revolution build a 3-1 lead, which the MLS side then furiously clung to in the second half en route to an eventual 3-2 victory over the Richmond Kickers (USL PRO) in a fourth-round U.S. Open Cup match on Wednesday night.
“We gave away too much at the end there,” said head coach Jay Heaps, who used a mix of regular starters and depth players in the midst of a three-week break from league action. “It’s a little frustrating because we had that game in control and we gave away a little too much going into that second half.”
“Credit to them; they made it tough on us in the second half, definitely,” said Neumann, who registered one goal and one assist in his first professional start. “The first half was great. The guys gave a great effort and any time you can get a win – especially in heat like this – at someone else’s place, it’s definitely a good result.”
Temperature at kickoff was officially listed at 95 degrees (with a heat index in the triple digits), making the late stages a bit of a slog for both sides as players fought through fatigue. For the Revs, the advantage they’d built in the first half proved vital as they were able to see the game out through challenging conditions.
McCarthy put the Revs in front early when he rose above the crowd to bury Neumann’s corner kick in the ninth minute, before Neumann put his own name on the score sheet to restore New England’s lead in the 35th minute. Shortly thereafter, Mullins – who set up Neumann’s goal – pounced to put the Revs in control at 3-1.
“It was big to get those goals in the first half and have a two-goal cushion,” said Neumann. “Obviously them getting the goal in the second half made it a little interesting at the end, but I thought the guys worked really hard and fought really hard to get the win. It’s great to advance in the tournament.”
Next up for the Revs is a fifth-round meeting with their affiliate club, the Rochester Rhinos (USL PRO), whom they’ll host at Brown University’s Stevenson Field in Providence next Wednesday night. It’s an opportunity the players are very much looking forward to – although they’re hoping it won’t be quite as hot in the Northeast.
“I’m excited that we play at home next game,” said McCarthy. “I think we’ll be pretty much a different team at home because the conditions here were really hot, so we didn’t really play to our advantages. I think moving forward the guys who haven’t played got fitness, the guys that have learned to mesh with us a little better, and hopefully we’ll be better for it going forward.”