CHESTER, Pa. – Every loss stings, but falling short in the late stages of a knockout competition – just a few games shy of a trophy – is particularly difficult to stomach.
That’s unfortunately what the New England Revolution was made to do on Tuesday night, exiting the U.S. Open Cup in the quarterfinal round for a second straight year with a 2-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union.
“We wanted to come out here and get a win and advance,” said Teal Bunbury, who won the U.S. Open Cup with Sporting Kansas City back in 2012. “We were two games away from making it to a final, so that’s definitely disappointing.”
A recent trend plagued the Revs once again at PPL Park, where Conor Casey scored in just the ninth minute to put the visitors in an early hole. The Revs have conceded the first goal in all four of their recent league losses and head coach Jay Heaps made starting strong a point of emphasis leading into Tuesday night’s contest.
Sebastien Le Toux doubled Philadelphia’s lead shortly after halftime and a 64-minute weather delay midway through the second half halted any progress the Revs had made, but it was Casey’s early opener which set the tone on a frustrating evening in Chester.
“That’s a problem we’ve been having over the past couple weeks – just giving up that early goal, which is tough,” said Steve Neumann, who set up the Revolution’s best chance when he teed up Saer Sene to hit the post late in the first half. “We’re playing against pros here and they know how to close games out.”
New England’s brightest period arrived after Le Toux made it 2-0 and before the weather delay, but Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath came up with a pair of big saves to keep the Revolution at bay.
There’s no time to dwell on the Open Cup exit, however, as a return to league action beckons on Saturday night when the Revs will host the Chicago Fire at Gillette Stadium. Two more games follow next week when they’ll visit both the LA Galaxy and FC Dallas, and it’s a stretch they’re hopeful will provide the necessary turnaround.
“Chicago at home is a good opportunity for us to get three points and kind of find ourselves again,” said Neumann. “We’re looking forward to this stretch and we’re looking forward to getting back on track. We know we have the talent to do it, we’ve just got to put the pieces together.”