The New England Revolution and FC Cincinnati are having contrasting seasons in MLS. The latter were once shoe-ins for the wooden spoon whilst the Revolution are of course a record-breaking side.
This season though, Cincinnati are in the playoff spots currently while New England are yet to get going properly. Will the US Open Cup provide some much-needed relief for Bruce Arena and the Revolution?
The Revs will get their US Open Cup Campaign Underway Against FC Cincinnati
Form Favors the Visitors
Following polar opposite seasons in 2021, the positions of these two respective teams must come as a shock to everyone. With 11 games played though, FC Cincinnati are beyond the stage of being just a flash in the pan. Pat Noonan’s side currently occupy fifth in the Eastern Conference with just three points separating them from top dogs, the Philadelphia Union.
It is also worth mentioning that whilst this is the first taste of the US Open Cup for the Revolution in 2022, Cincinnati have already come through one round. A few weeks back, they welcomed the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the USL to TQL Stadium. It was a tied game for the majority of it but Alvaro Barreal scored twice in second half added time, one of which came from the penalty spot. This saw Cincinnati advance from the third round and into the round of 32. They have the US Open Cup advantage over New England at the very least.
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) April 21, 2022
Talking of the Revs and their rough start to the year is heavily trodden ground. They shipped yet another late goal in their last outing that allowed Columbus to rescue a point at the death. It was a fairly dull game despite having four goals and after coming from behind to lead, it was a disappointing conclusion for Bruce Arena. The team lead the league in goals in the last fifteen minutes which is hardly surprising when you consider this game alongside those versus the Red Bulls, RSL and Inter Miami to name just a few.
Midfielder Tommy McNamara had the following to say on this matter: “At the end of the games when we’re winning, we have to do everything we can to see that game out, and last year we did a very, very good job of that. This year, we have not.”
It is easy enough to focus on the Revolution’s CCL exit at the hands of eventual runners-up Pumas and their standing in the MLS table too. They are unbeaten in three on home soil though. New England boasted a two-game win-streak going into the clash with the Crew and that draw adds to the run. This is particularly relevant as the US Open Cup fixture at hand will take place at Gillette Stadium. It remains to be seen how good the turn out will be for a mid-week cup game but the Revolution faithful are often exactly that.
The Importance of the US Open Cup
MLS Cup is said to be the bread and butter for MLS sides. This shouldn’t come at the expense of a tournaments such as the US Open Cup though. It may be on a different scale, but the Sounders breaking the duct of MLS teams in Champions League is a sign of things to come on all fronts.
The Revolution have a man in their corner who has been there and done it as a player in this competition. Assistant coach Richie Williams was a part of the 1996 DC United team that were victorious in the US Open Cup. He can play a big role in any potential success this year. “Drawing back from my time being involved and winning the championship, you have to be ready. It can be unpredictable at times. Teams can be playing different lineups. Fortunately, we’re playing at home,” he said.
To make things better. Who was the coach of that successful DC team? Bruce Arena, of course.
— D.C. United (@dcunited) October 30, 2017
Williams has come out on top in this tournament and his current club have one to their name too. It is understandable in the case of Cincinnati that they have yet to win a US Open Cup given they only joined the league a few years back. The Revolution, on the other hand, have often come up short in the big games. They prevailed in the 2007 US Open Cup but have, more often than not, tended to be second-best. All five MLS Cup final games have ended in defeat and they’ve fallen at the final hurdle of the competition at hand too.
Is This a Chance for Squad Players to get Some Minutes?
Across the world, coaches and anyone else involved in football have different views on the necessary approach. Some use a tournament such as the US Open Cup as a chance to rotate players. There may well be some changes in the Revolution’s ranks but the message from Williams and, by virtue, the whole staff is as follows: “U.S. Open Cup is very important for us. Any competition we’re in, we want to do well, we want to win, we want to advance, and we want to win championships.”
A similar sentiment was reinforced by McNamara: “It’s another trophy to compete for and it has a big benefit to it, to winning it and getting back into the [Concacaf] Champions League… It presents an awesome opportunity for all levels of American soccer to compete for this trophy.”
He then went on to reminisce about his past at this level: “I remember doing it in college playing on summer teams and playing Open Cup games and that was a big moment to go and play a USL team or something like that.”
It's @opencup matchday! 😤
5 games involving MLS clubs. pic.twitter.com/saQhdX2WrN
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) May 10, 2022
The two key men for Cincinnati this season have been Brandon Vazquez and Luciano Acosta so it will be intriguing to see whether Noonan deploys them from the start. Meanwhile, it seems fairly likely that players such as Ryan Spaulding and Justin Rennicks could well get in the Revolution starting XI. Most of Jozy Altidore’s appearances have come from the bench too so he could come in and give the in-form Adam Buksa a rest.
The US Open Cup certainly seems to be important to those involved with the Revs. Exiting CCL the way they did will surely have left a sour taste in their mouth so now they have the chance for retribution in another knockout tournament. Will New England be able to deny this high-flying FC Cincinnati side?