PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Another two-goal halftime lead. Another nervy second half. Another win.
For the second straight week the New England Revolution used a strong first-half performance to carry them through some tense moments in the second half, this time downing the Rochester Rhinos (USL PRO) by a score of 2-1 to book a place in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals.
“Any time you advance, it’s a positive,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “I thought, again, it was a tale of two halves for us and I’d like to be a little bit better coming out in the second half. I think we were just a little bit sloppy and gave the ball away too easily.”
Rochester did outshoot the Revs by a margin of 5-0 in the second half and Colin Rolfe’s 55th-minute goal made for a frantic finish at Brown University’s Stevenson Field, but it was before the halftime break that the Revs did their damage.
Lee Nguyen was the architect of both Revolution goals, teeing up Saer Sene for his 11th-minute opener before floating in a cross for Kelyn Rowe to bag his sixth career U.S. Open Cup goal – in just his fifth appearance – midway through the opening stanza.
Those goals provided the margin of victory, but it was performances from some of New England’s depth players – most notably Alec Sundly and Donnie Smith, both of whom have spent significant time on loan with Rochester this season – which made the difference in Wednesday night’s fifth-round Open Cup showdown.
“You look at our lineup, we went with a lot of different guys,” said Heaps. “I thought Alec Sundly stepped in and did an excellent job. I thought Donnie Smith did a great job at left back … Those guys, having not played those positions for us recently, I thought they did excellent.”
Heaps also praised the performances of Stephen McCarthy, Darrius Barnes, Charlie Davies and Sene, whose 79-minute stint was his longest of the 2014 season in any competition. Those players stepping up allowed others to rest ahead of Saturday’s return to league action when the Revs host the Philadelphia Union.
It’s the same Union side the Revolution will meet in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday, July 8, having downed both the Richmond Kickers and Rochester Rhinos in the fourth and fifth rounds, respectively.
“A win’s a win, no matter what,” said Rowe. “You’re going to build momentum in that. That’s two in a row for us and I think that we want to carry that toward Saturday, playing at home against Philly, a good team.”