Missed chances doom Revs in extra-time loss to Orlando City in Open Cup Rd of 16

Cristian Penilla vs. Orlando City SC (2019, Colonial)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Soccer is a game of chances, and the New England Revolution had their fair share in Wednesday night’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 match against Orlando City SC.

Of particular note, second-half substitute Juan Fernando Caicedo hit the post with a long-distance drive in the 79th minute, while the follow-up attempt was bounced wide by Teal Bunbury, who’d been denied a spectacular back-heel goal by a sharp Adam Grinwis save just four minutes earlier.

When those chances – amongst others – went begging, the door was left open for Orlando, who ultimately kicked it down with a pair of goals in a five-minute span in extra time and then held on for a 2-1 win, sending the Lions through to the Open Cup quarterfinals and ending the Revolution’s run in the competition.

“I thought our first half wasn’t our best, for sure, and I thought the second half we played quite well and had some chances to win the game,” said Bruce Arena, who suffered his first loss as head coach of the Revs. “Unfortunately, we didn’t put any of those away.

“I think the effort was good. Our backline continues to improve, and with a little bit of luck, we may have walked off the field tonight advancing. But unfortunately we didn’t finish off a couple chances.”

New England were left, then, to take positives from Arena’s third game in charge, and there were plenty. Perhaps most importantly Arena has now used 19 different players in those three games, giving himself and his coaching staff an opportunity to assess the current roster before determining how to move forward both tactically and in terms of roster building.

Arena was also pleased with how his side responded to different challenges, as he saw a marked improvement from the first half to the second half, as well as a late fightback in extra time that so nearly erased a two-goal deficit and forced a penalty shootout.

“You know our team’s not going to quit, and they battle,” Arena said. “That’s sometimes 90 percent of the game; you have to have the right mentality and the right fight. That’s important for our team. They’ve demonstrated that over the last three games.”

They’ll need to continue to demonstrate that as they return to league play next week, kicking off a stretch of six games in 26 days with back-to-back home games against the Philadelphia Union and Houston Dynamo.

The midweek clash with Philadelphia will mark the halfway point of the Revs’ regular-season schedule, and currently just three points back of the playoff places in the East, there’s still plenty of time to get themselves firmly in the mix.

But first, they need to recover after playing a pair of 120-minute matches within the last week.

“It’s essential,” said Scott Caldwell. “We have two really, really big games at home to get six points. We need to recover and make sure everyone’s ready to go.”