The New England Revolution got knocked out of the US Open Cup by USL side Louisville City FC, 3-2, on Tuesday night. The result means the Revs have suffered a fourth-round exit twice in the last four years.
Here are three takeaways from the New England performance:
Louisville had Revs figured out
The high press and transitioning through the midfield via Scott Caldwell and Wilfried Zahibo have been hallmarks of the Revolution’s game this season.
Louisville neutralized both of those against the Revolution Tuesday night, as it zigzagged past the Revs midfield and exploited the flanks. When the Revolution got possession, they coughed it up easily and never got into enough of a groove to get numbers forward in dangerous spots.
New England was lucky to score their two goals as well, with both of their strikes coming off Louisville errors. That the Revs had the lead twice is almost completely irrelevant; they were outplayed and offered few meaningful attempts at scoring beyond the two gift-wrapped goals they received in the first half.
“I think they felt they’ll put the shirt on, they’re an MLS team, they’ll come out and they deserve to win the game,” Friedel said after the game. “I’m afraid that’s not how it works. That’s not how it works anywhere in the world in cup competitions.”
The Revs were certainly second-best throughout the night, but you have to wonder about the game plan Friedel put together. Attitude and mentality aside, how, exactly, were the Revolution supposed to go about beating Louisville?
USL teams upset Major League Soccer sides each and every year in the U.S. Open Cup.
Playing at a new, away venue in hot weather against arguably the best USL team made Tuesday’s fixture a legitimate challenge for the Revs.
But Friedel also went with an inexperienced group to get the job done on Tuesday. Starters Nico Samoyoa, Gabriel Somi, Wilfried Zahibo, Mark Segbers, and Brandon Bye had never played in the U.S. Open Cup before. Samoyoa, Segbers and Bye are rookies; this was Samoyoa’s first professional start.
Meanwhile, Zach Herivaux and Brian Wright have had minimal competitive playing time in the last two season. Femi Hollinger-Janzen is in his third year, but has seen his playing time rapidly dwindle; Tuesday was his first appearance of the season.
Additionally, right back Andrew Farrell played out of position, in central defense.
Silver lining: a singular focus
Advancing in the U.S. Open Cup is a blessing and a curse. Teams can vie for a trophy and potentially clinch a spot in CONCACAF Champions League, but they also have to endure a tougher schedule with knockout round games scheduled between MLS matches.
New England probably didn’t have the depth to make a long Open Cup run, anyway. Regardless, the Revolution can now focus on the most important task: qualifying for the MLS playoffs.
Friedel may reconsider his tactics ahead of a “six-pointer” against the Chicago Fire on Saturday night, an MLS game that could have big implications for the Revs’ postseason hopes later this year.
The Revolution put forth a horrid performance in Kentucky on Tuesday night but at the very least the match was a learning experience for all involved. Bouncing back against the Fire this weekend will be the perfect tonic to put the Open Cup in the rear view.