Brotherly Game) The New England Revolution had a long road trip to Utah this past weekend to face off against Real Salt Lake. What will the effect be as they take on the Philadelphia Union a mere four days later?
Jake Catanese, The Bent Musket) Probably not all that much, and I'd say with the Chicago Fire coming in for the weekend's MLS game, there might be a chance to rotate a few players for that game as well. The Revolution were probably one of the teams that benefited the most from the Copa America break as far as injuries go. Charlie Davies and Gershon Koffie in particular have been working back to full fitness after lengthy injury spells and Juan Agudelo left injured in the Revs previous USOC game against the New York Cosmos. While the status of those three is questionable, Chris Tierney and Diego Fagundez featured off the bench in that 0-0 draw with RSL and I would pencil both in to play all ninety minutes against the Union.
As far as fitness or rotating the squad, the Revs have had success with a mixed lineup in previous rounds though neither game was against an MLS opponent. Third round draft pick Femi Hollinger-Janzen has seen solid minutes this season and could play a big role up top if Jay Heaps opts to not start Kei Kamara and Agudelo isn't 100%. Midfielder Zach Herivaux scored his first pro goal in stoppage time against the fourth round at the Carolina Railhawks and could also be a candidate to play serious minutes next to Scott Caldwell as a CDM. This late in the Open Cup and playing at home, I'd expect the Revs to be up for this game and for Jay Heaps to line up several of his starters.
tBG) A lot has changed since the last time the Union and Revolution faced off. Can you talk about what's different now with the Revs and what Union fans should look out for.
TBM) When was the last Union-Revs game... *looks up 3-0 loss back in March* ...oh yes, the day CJ Sapong went for two goals in a half hour and then Je-Vaughn Watson got a red card. I had blocked this from my mind for obvious reasons, but the two biggest differences between the Revs then and now are Kei Kamara and results. Early in the year, the Revs weren't exactly playing all that badly, but games like that 3-0 loss to Philly aside, they were finding ways to either lose or settling for a draw. The Revs started out 1W-3L-7D and since have been 4-4-1, so they're on the upswing for the year though games like a 3-2 loss to the Impact (after being up 2-0) still linger.
Kei Kamara has been a wonderful addition to the team and the Revs offense seems to be far livelier with him up front. Besides the obvious talent Kei brings on his own, the consistency of having him up front since his acquisition has also been nice as the revolving door of Agudelo, Davies, Teal Bunbury, etc., due to injuries was not helping the offense when the Revs were struggling to get wins early in the year. The defense has improved at times and keepers Bobby Shuttleworth and Brad Knighton have both featured in both the Open Cup and MLS in recent weeks so whoever starts in Harvard should be fully prepared.
tBG) This match is being played at Soldiers Field in downtown Boston as opposed to Gilette Stadium. Can you talk a little bit about why this is happening and what this means?
TBM) The Revs have a fairly long history of playing Open Cup games away from Gillette Stadium, and not just in Boston. They've played at Brown University in Providence, RI as well as New Britain, CT and these smaller venues I think add to the nostalgia of the Open Cup. I attended the Revs game at Belson Stadium in Queens, NY which is basically St. John's University's field on top of a parking garage and our group sat literally 10 feet behind the goal. It's a really unique experience that blends well with the USOC and I think the Revs recognize that opening up Gillette Stadium for a midweek Open Cup game that's not even on TV might not be a great idea. These games do give hope that the Revs can eventually have a stadium of their own closer to Boston but now the occasional Open Cup match will suffice.
Injuries, suspensions, etc.: Gershon Koffie and Charlie Davies I suspect are still probably out though Davies did return to training recently. Juan Agudelo wasn't in the 18 against RSL but could be another that is available off the bench even if he's not ready to go 90 minutes yet.
Projected lineup: Bobby Shuttleworth; Chris Tierney, Jose Goncalves, Samba, Andrew Farrell; Je-Vaughn Watson, Scott Caldwell; Diego Fagundez, Lee Nguyen, Femi Hollinger-Janzen; Kei Kamara
This is a mixed lineup and I expect it to be probably slightly different but still featuring most of the big names either from the start or off the bench late. I'll put a fiver on Zach Herivaux cementing his status as "Open Cup Hero 2016" coming off the bench with the winner, 2-1 Revs.