FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – While the New England Revolution are in the midst of a three-and-a-half week break from league play, they’ll begin their quest for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday night when they enter the competition in the Fourth Round against the New York Red Bulls.
Kickoff from MSU Soccer Park on the campus of Montclair State University is set for 7:30 p.m., with coverage exclusively live streaming on ESPN+. Max Bretos (play-by-play) will be joined on commentary duties by former Revolution forward and current club ambassador Charlie Davies.
The Revs and Red Bulls were paired up via regional draw, with New York City FC and North Carolina FC (USL Championship) the other matchup coming out of the Northeast pool.
New England are in search of their second U.S. Open Cup title, having lifted the trophy in 2007. They were runners up as recently as 2016, but they’ll be looking to avenge an early exit from last year’s competition as they were eliminated at this stage by Louisville City FC (USL Championship).
Current Form: Revs unbeaten in four heading into USOC; Red Bulls coming off tough loss
New England made it a winning start to the Bruce Arena era last Sunday night in California, where goals from Cristian Penilla and Teal Bunbury secured the Revs their first road win of the season, 2-1 over the LA Galaxy.
It was a victory that extended the Revolution’s unbeaten run to four games (2-0-2), sending them into the protracted Concacaf Gold Cup break on an upward trajectory and just two points back of the playoff places in the Eastern Conference with still more than half the season to play.
Arena pointed to the Revs’ willingness to keep the ball on the ground and combine through midfield – rather than hoof the ball long – as one factor that contributed to their success in LA, but he’s also keeping his team grounded and the expectations realistic with a massive task ahead.
“We should probably win everything now, right? Because we won a game,” Arena said last week, the sarcasm laid on thick. “What’s realistic is to try to win the next game. That’s the way we’re going to approach it.”
The next game is an Open Cup matchup with another of Arena’s former teams, the New York Red Bulls, who were one of the league’s hottest teams prior to this past weekend’s frustrating setback in Philadelphia.
Following a rough start to the campaign (1-4-2) the Red Bulls went on a tear from late April through early June, going 6-1-1 and climbing near the top of the Eastern Conference. That run was halted this past Saturday, however, as RBNY saw a 2-0 halftime lead slip away in a 3-2 loss to the Union.
As such, the Revs are expecting a hungry Red Bulls team looking to make amends.
“Every time we play against New York, it’s a rivalry,” said Diego Fagundez. “It’s going to be a good game. It’s going to be a battle. Whoever wants it more is going to win. I think we’re all ready for that.”
Past Meetings: Penilla’s late goal lifted Revs over Red Bulls two months ago
This will be the second meeting between the Revs and Red Bulls this season, as New England rode a 73rd-minute goal from Penilla to a 1-0 win over RBNY back on April 20 at Gillette Stadium.
There’s a lengthy history between these sides in the Open Cup as this will be their fifth all-time meeting in the competition, and the second in the past three years. Bradley Wright-Phillips scored the game’s only goal in the 87th minute to lift the Red Bulls to a 1-0 win in a quarterfinal played at Harvard University in July 2017.
The last time the Revs and Red Bulls met in the Fourth Round was also at Harvard University, in 2013, when the Revs rolled to a 4-2 win over their longtime rivals.
Injury Report: Carles Gil unavailable on Tuesday; Angking returns to training
Carles Gil is making a strong case for Newcomer of the Year in Major League Soccer as he leads the Revs in both goals (4) and assists (4), but he won’t be adding to those totals on Tuesday night as he’ll be unavailable for the Revs’ visit to the Red Bulls in the Open Cup. Gil traveled to his native Spain during the league break for personal reasons, and he’s expected to return soon after Tuesday’s match.
It remains to be seen whether Arena will rotate his roster on Tuesday night – as teams typically do in the early rounds of the Open Cup – or if circumstances dictate more of a first-choice lineup. Should there be rotation, one player who’s eager to see action is Isaac Angking, back on the field two months after undergoing knee surgery.
“Hopefully I’m 100 percent in, 100 percent ready within the next couple weeks,” Angking said last week. “Hopefully I get a couple minutes and we get a couple wins.”
Final Thoughts: Arena says soccer is “a pretty good way to make a living”
“I think we should realize the fact that we’re very lucky people,” Arena said of life in professional sports. “I could care less how much you’re getting paid – this is a pretty good way to make a living, and you might as well enjoy it.
“We know we have to compete, and there’s pressure and all of that, but you should be coming out to work every day pretty pleased … We’ve got good lives, so we might as well enjoy it and smile once in a while.”