MONTCLAIR, N.J. – "If you save this, we're going to win the game."
That's what Juan Agudelo told teammate and New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner as he prepared to face Alex Muyl's penalty kick in the second half of Tuesday night's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup meeting with the New York Red Bulls, the Revs trailing 2-1 at the time.
Agudelo’s statement foreshadowed the Revs' 3-2 win over their long-standing MLS rivals in the Fourth Round of the Open Cup, and while there were several key turning points during the match, Turner shutting down the penalty was most definitely one of them.
“I took that to heart because I thought I should have done better on the second goal, and that was my moment to pick myself back up and to pick my team up and get us going forward,” Turner said as he reflected on his conversation with Agudelo.
It was evident that the penalty save was a big boost for the team, as the group immediately celebrated together after Turner dove to his left to forcefully push the ball out of the six-yard box.
“That was crucial,” said Teal Bunbury, whose brace completed the Revs' comeback. “If they scored that, they’d be up two goals and it’s tough to get back in. It was a tough call I think for a penalty. That’s part of the game, but Turner was big time.
“You can see a little momentum shift there. You can see the guys kind of rally a little bit. Maybe the Red Bulls had a little bit more run of play going on, [but] something like that really sparks everybody’s attitude. It kind of changed a little bit.”
From there, the Revs clearly had gained a bit of extra confidence, and it was good timing to find self-assurance.
Approaching the last minutes of the second half, Bunbury found an equalizer to send the Revs into extra time. However, right before that extra time started, Luis Caicedo was given a red card and the Revs were knocked to 10 men.
A defensive showing from Turner and the rest of the group kept the Red Bulls’ offense at bay, and ultimately Bunbury buried a beautiful game winner, curled between two defenders and directly over the keeper.
“I think we overcame a lot of obstacles tonight and really responded very well and were very deserving,” said sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena, reflecting on how proud he was of the team.
While the Revolution were up for these challenges, Turner in particular had a little extra something to play for on Tuesday night.
“It was just a special night,” said the New Jersey native with a smile. “I had a lot of family here and I used to coach soccer camps on this field when I was in college, so it was just a really cool overall experience and really happy with the performance from the guys and getting the win.
Turner estimated he had about 30 friends and family members come out to cheer him on against the Red Bulls, and his fan club wasn’t shy to let everyone know who they were cheering for.
“Of course – they’re Jersey!” exclaimed Turner on if he heard them. “They’re real vocal and they’re going to be loud, and it just meant the world to me that they were here tonight.”
The Revs will look to carry this momentum as they knocked the Red Bulls out of the Fourth Round of the U.S. Open Cup, into next week’s Round of 16 performance. The Revs will have their opponent and venue determined on Thursday, as a draw will take place to decide the details of the Revs’ upcoming U.S. Open Cup match.