PROVIDENCE, R.I. – It took a while for the New England Revolution to hit top gear in Wednesday night’s U.S. Open Cup 4th-round meeting with the Rochester Rhinos, but once they did, they never looked back.
Capitalizing on a man advantage after the 40th-minute ejection of Joseph Farrell, the Revs pounced with three goals in a span of seven minutes either side of halftime, rolling to a 3-0 win over their USL opponents and booking a spot in the Round of 16 in the process.
“I actually thought we really picked up the tempo right before the red card,” said Revs head coach Jay Heaps. “To finish the half the way we did was great, and then to come out again and get a goal from a set piece and to get a goal from a turnover was really good.”
Two of New England’s biggest contributors on the night were a pair of players making their 2017 debuts with the Revolution: Zach Herivaux and Donnie Smith. Herivaux drew the penalty that Teal Bunbury converted on the stroke of halftime, before both Herivaux and Smith scored after the break.
If both players looked fit and in form, it’s because they were; Herivaux (San Antonio FC) and Smith (Charlotte Independence) have spent recent weeks on loan with USL teams, recalled specifically for Wednesday night’s game and only returning to Foxborough this week.
The valuable game action earned during their loan stints has paid dividends both for the players and the Revs, who were able to plug Herivaux and Smith into the lineup seamlessly against Rochester.
“You always want to have your guys step on the field and be at their peak performance, be able to perform at the level they want to perform,” said Heaps. “In the past, when we got to the Open Cup, we needed to get guys more minutes before they got here.
“Donnie’s been doing a great job, and Zach, and Brian (Wright), as well. We’ve been able to get these guys some minutes that were critical for tonight.”
Herivaux has made five appearances during two separate loan stints with San Antonio – scoring a goal against Portland Timbers 2 back in April – while Smith has made four starts for Charlotte, playing the full 90 minutes on each occasion.
“Playing in San Antonio was great for me,” said Herivaux, who also scored in the fourth round of the Open Cup last year. “I need minutes right now, and that’s what it did; it prepared me for a game like this. I got good minutes down there and I was surrounded by good people. It prepared for me the situation. I was ready for it last year, and I think even more prepared for it this year.”
“In the past, obviously I haven’t had the minutes and sometimes I get injured just because I’m not used to the 90 minutes of fitness,” Smith said. “I played four games in the past month. Even though some guys look down on going down to the USL, I think it helped me out a ton.”
Both Herivaux and Smith are likely to stick with the Revs for the near future as they now prepare for their U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 showdown scheduled for June 28, with the opponent and venue to be determined on Thursday morning.
“It was a great team win,” Herivaux said. “We move on to the next one.”