FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution enters the historic 100th edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday night when the club visits the Rochester Rhinos (USL PRO) at Sahlen’s Stadium.
The Rhinos – an affiliate club of the Revolution – are expected to provide a live video stream of the third-round match on rhinossoccer.com, with kickoff slated for 7:35 p.m.
Current Form: Revs aim to carry league form into Open Cup; Rhinos in search of a turnaround
Back-to-back 2-0 wins over the Houston Dynamo and Toronto FC have the Revolution on a bit of a roll heading into the U.S. Open Cup. The Revs have been sparked by a pair of youngsters as 18-year-old Diego Fagundez and 20-year-old Juan Agudelo have been the offensive catalysts, while goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth has helped the Revolution reclaim the designation as Major League Soccer’s stingiest defense.
Traditionally one of USL PRO’s strongest clubs, Rochester relieved head coach Jesse Myers of his duties on May 19 after an uncharacteristic 1-6-1 start to the campaign. Club president and general manager (and former head coach) Pat Ercoli has since assumed head coaching duties and guided the Rhinos to a 1-0 win over GPS Portland Phoenix (PDL) in the second round of the Open Cup, before securing a 0-0 road draw with the Charleston Battery this past Saturday night in league play.
In an odd twist, Rochester’s winning goal in the second-round meeting with GPS Portland Phoenix was scored by Revolution defender Bilal Duckett, one of four New England players – along with Matt Horth, Gabe Latigue and Tyler Polak – currently on long-term loan with the Rhinos. While Duckett is now cup-tied to Rochester by virtue of that appearance, both Latigue and Polak have been recalled by the Revs and will be available to play for New England on Tuesday night. Horth, meanwhile, is currently carrying an injury.
Past Meetings: Revs and Rhinos set for fifth all-time meeting in U.S. Open Cup
The Revs have met the Rhinos more frequently than any other team in the U.S. Open Cup, having battled Rochester four previous times since first meeting in 2003. New England has advanced past Rochester on three of those occasions – twice in regulation and once in penalty kicks – while the Rhinos downed the Revs in a penalty shootout in 2004.
The most recent meeting between the sides was in 2007 when Steve Ralston and Taylor Twellman each scored a pair of goals to lift the Revs to a 4-2 victory in the third round en route to an eventual U.S. Open Cup title.
Injury Report: With just two days between games, Revs to test depth against Rhinos
Cup competitions always test the depth of a squad and that will be no different for the Revs as they kick off their 2013 Open Cup campaign on Tuesday night.
With just two days between Saturday night’s league win over TFC and Tuesday’s meeting with Rochester, lineup changes are inevitable to keep the side fresh. While finding the proper balance presents a challenge to head coach Jay Heaps, he views the situation as the perfect opportunity for those players hungry for first-team minutes.
A steady rotation of players through the lineup in recent weeks has also set the Revs up for this match, and Heaps believes the side he’ll put out on Tuesday night will be more than capable of getting the job done.
“If you look at the guys who didn’t play [against Toronto] that we have, we’re going after it,” he said. “A.J. (Soares) is ready to go. Darrius Barnes didn’t play [against TFC] and Darrius has played excellent for us. Kalifa (Cisse), (Andy) Dorman, Chad Barrett, Dimitry (Imbongo). With the game on a Tuesday and the following [league game against the LA Galaxy] on a Sunday, we’re going … there to win.”
While it’s unlikely Fagundez would’ve featured regardless following his 90-minute performance on Saturday night, the wunderkind is suspended for the meeting with Rochester after picking up a red card in last year’s third-round loss to the Harrisburg City Islanders (USL PRO).
Final Thoughts: Heaps has his sights set on deep Open Cup run
“There’s no question, we want to win the Open Cup. It’s an area where we want to do well,” said Heaps. “You test your depth, you test your roster. For me, it actually comes at a good time because we’re talking about all those players who are chomping for opportunities. Nothing says an opportunity like an Open Cup game and a chance to play against a pretty good team in Rochester.”