FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Heading into Wednesday night’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Round of 32 meeting with FC Cincinnati, it felt like the New England Revolution were starting to move in the right direction. They’d gone 2-1-1 in their previous four games – scoring multiple goals in each – but the Revs were still lacking a dominant, confidence-building performance in recent weeks.
Safe to say, they got one on Wednesday night.
Behind Carles Gil’s hat trick – the Revolution’s first in Open Cup history – and Adam Buksa’s brace, New England steamrolled their way to a 5-1 win over FCC, advancing to the Open Cup Round of 16, and perhaps more importantly giving themselves a massive shot of self-belief just as they prepare to head into the season’s all-important summer months.
“I think we needed a game like this today, scoring goals,” said Gil, who also picked up an assist on Buksa’s second goal. “5-1 is a very good result. I think we are [playing] in a good way in the last two or three games. We feel better and hopefully we continue like this.”
Assistant coach Richie Williams called the Open Cup “a high priority” for the Revs and that was reflected in New England’s lineup, which featured a first-choice backline in addition to the DP duo of Gil and Buksa. Head coach Bruce Arena referenced the Revolution’s schedule – which sees them travel to Atlanta on Sunday, providing an extra day of rest – as one of the reasons they went with a strong group.
One of the three changes Arena made to the starting XI was to insert Arnór Traustason, and the move paid off as the Icelandic midfielder drew the penalty which Gil converted for New England’s first-half equalizer, before then playing a role in the buildup to the second, fourth, and fifth goals.
“We haven’t had the results with us,” said Traustason, playing for the first time since April 16. “We’ve conceded, I don’t even know how many goals in the last minutes of the games and it kind of kills the momentum we’ve been trying to build. And the games we’ve been winning have been by one goal. Every game is tight.
“Now, to get loose, just score five goals and the game is never in danger. It’s definitely good momentum to take with us into the next two away games.”
That first away game is a nationally-televised meeting with Atlanta United FC on Sunday afternoon (1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), and Arena noted that the Revolution should be fairly fresh for that match as their large lead on Wednesday night allowed them to take off Gil, Buksa, Tommy McNamara, Henry Kessler, and DeJuan Jones just after the hour mark.
“It was important,” Arena said of putting the game out of reach and subbing off that quintet. “I think it was a good 60 minutes for a bunch of those guys and we’re able to give them a little bit of rest. And, you know, we should be pretty fresh for the game on Sunday.”