FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup action returns to Boston on Wednesday night when the New England Revolution host D.C. United in a Round of 16 showdown at Harvard University’s Jordan Field.
Both sides entered the competition two weeks ago in the Fourth Round; New England rolled past the visiting Rochester Rhinos, 3-0, in a game played at Providence College, while D.C. needed a late surge to get past upstart amateur side Christos FC, 4-1.
Wednesday night’s game, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m., will be streamed live on revolutionsoccer.net, with Chris Picher handling play-by-play duties alongside analyst Paul Mariner.
Current Form: Revs see Open Cup as a chance to “right the ship” ahead of summer stretch
A challenging stretch in late spring saw the Revs play four straight games against the teams currently ranked 1-2-3 in the MLS standings (Toronto FC, Chicago Fire and New York City FC), New England going 1-2-1 in that span.
The Revs started that gauntlet on a high with a 2-2 draw at NYCFC and a 3-0 romp over TFC, but back-to-back losses to Chicago and Toronto the past two weekends have New England looking to Wednesday night’s Open Cup contest as an opportunity to get back on track ahead of a critical summer.
“You’re always going to hit bumps in the road,” said Donnie Smith, who scored in the Revs’ win over Rochester two weeks ago. “The last couple games haven’t gone our way, but we can right the ship on Wednesday and hopefully spring forward into the next couple games.”
Smith was one of three players to see their first action of 2017 in that Fourth Round meeting with Rochester, and that could serve as an important confidence booster as the Revs will rely heavily upon their depth in the coming weeks.
“We took a lot of confidence,” Smith said. “There are some guys who haven’t had minutes this season, so to get a 3-0 victory and for most of us to play a full 90 (minutes), I think we’re kind of flying in regards to the Open Cup.”
United have struggled through the first half of the MLS season, tied with the Montreal Impact for the fewest points in the Eastern Conference, but with two more games played. D.C.’s issues have largely been at the attacking end, as their 12 goals scored are the fewest in MLS.
A hard-fought 1-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union this past weekend dropped D.C.’s record to 5-9-3 overall and 2-6-1 in their last nine games.
Past Meetings: United have been Revs’ bogey team in recent years
New England and D.C. have a long and storied history dating back to 1996, with more than 75 meetings between the two sides through 21-plus seasons. United, however, have had the upper hand in recent years.
The Revs are winless (0-4-3) against United in seven meetings since the start of the 2015 campaign, including a loss in the 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs. Most recently the sides met at Gillette Stadium on April 22, New England erasing a halftime deficit to salvage a 2-2 draw.
“They’re a difficult team to play, certainly for us,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “They do a nice job of counterbalancing what we try to do. Obviously we’ll put a little bit of a different group out there and hope that we can break them down and control the game.”
This will be the fifth all-time meeting between the Revs and United in the U.S. Open Cup, with each team advancing on two previous occasions. The last showdown was in 2013, when D.C. advanced to the semifinals with a 3-1 win over the Revolution.
Injury Report: Injuries, international duty leave Revs digging into their depth
New England will be missing three players because of international duty on Wednesday night, as Juan Agudelo (USMNT), Kelyn Rowe (USMNT) and Gershon Koffie (Ghana) have all joined their respective national teams. Agudelo and Rowe are part of the U.S. National Team’s roster for the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup, and they’ll face Koffie’s Ghana in a warmup friendly on Saturday night in East Hartford, Connecticut.
Je-Vaughn Watson will also take part in the Gold Cup as part of Jamaica’s squad, but the versatile veteran will be available for selection on Wednesday night.
The injury bug has also bitten the Revs as Scott Caldwell, Daigo Kobayashi and Xavier Kouassi have all missed recent matches, while Antonio Delamea visited a specialist early this week as he recovers from a fractured nose suffered in the second half of Friday night’s loss to Toronto FC.
“He’s recovering,” Heaps said of his stalwart center back. “We’re waiting to see what the next step is.”
Final Thoughts: Bunbury says Revs are “up for the challenge” ahead of D.C. showdown
“It’s a big opportunity,” Teal Bunbury said of New England hosting the Fourth Round, Round of 16, and a potential Quarterfinal. “It’s a chance for us to keep moving forward in this tournament that we want to win. We play to win trophies, to win championships, and it’s a great opportunity for us.
“We really enjoy being able to play at Harvard, being able to play at home, and getting more of our fan base there. It’s a more intimate setting. It’s going to be a good test, but I think we’re up for the challenge.”