FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Wednesday night’s fourth-round U.S. Open Cup victory over the Richmond Kickers offered the New England Revolution a chance to showcase its depth. Five of the Revolution players who saw action in Richmond have played fewer than 100 minutes in league action this season.
Two of those players – center back Stephen McCarthy and attacking midfielder Steve Neumann – contributed goals in the Revolution’s 3-2 win over the Kickers, while head coach Jay Heaps was pleased with the efforts of everyone who was presented an opportunity to impress at City Stadium.
“You look for these moments,” Heaps said. “We wanted to have a strong, blended team for this game, but there are guys that earned minutes. I thought Scott Caldwell played extremely well. Neumann did excellent … I thought [McCarthy] was excellent. I don’t think he made a wrong step.”
Heaps also praised the contributions of those regular starters who played significant minutes in the midweek Open Cup match – including Diego Fagundez, Jose Goncalves, Patrick Mullins, Lee Nguyen and Chris Tierney – but it was the depth players who stepped up biggest on Wednesday night.
Neumann made the most of his first professional start by registering his first professional goal and assist, setting up McCarthy’s powerful header in just the eighth minute. McCarthy – whose last game action was a 10-minute stint in the 2013 home finale against Columbus – battled through 77 strong minutes in 95-degree heat despite re-breaking his nose early in the match.
“I felt awesome for like the first 10 minutes, and then I said, ‘Oh, I’m not game fit at all,’” McCarthy said with a chuckle. “It’s tough. It’s really tough to stay game fit without games. But thankfully I got this one sort of under the belt and hopefully move on from here.”
McCarthy, Neumann and others could well be handed another opportunity to play significant minutes in the Revolution’s fifth-round U.S. Open Cup meeting with the Rochester Rhinos next Wednesday night. That match kicks off a stretch in which the Revs will play at least nine games (pending further Open Cup contests) in 39 days, meaning depth will be key throughout the month of July.
“That’s the thing I’m most happy about advancing is just more games to play, more opportunities to put your stamp on the game and earn playing time in MLS games,” said Neumann. “I know the guys are really excited – a little bit tired, but definitely excited – and now we just prepare for the next round.”