By Kevin Koczwara
The New England Revolution face the New York Red Bulls tomorrow in a U.S. Open Cup play-in game at 8 p.m. at Red Bull Arena. The Revolution and the Red Bulls are both recovering from tough weekend defeats — the Red Bulls lost, 4-0, to the San Jose Earthquakes and the Revs lost, 3-2, to the Columbus Crew on a heartbreaking stoppage time goal — and looking to rebound in the mid-week.
The Revolution will be shorthanded when they make the trip to New York tomorrow. They will bring 14 players with them including two goalies – that makes only 12 field players and only three substitutes on the bench including a back-up goalkeeper. New England has been forced to fight off injuries all season, but at this tough stretch of games, which includes five more games in May, the Revolution are really starting to fight a war of attrition.
Main stayers on the injury report, Taylor Twellman and Matt Reis, will still be unavailable and their timeline for a comeback is unknown. Emmanuel Osei is still injured with an infection in his right leg due to an injury that has kept him out of a few matches this season, and is being kept away from the team. Mike Videira is still out with an ankle injury. New addition to the injury report, Darrius Barnes, has been added with a midfoot sprain that occurred during the 3-2 loss to the Columbus Crew on Saturday.
The questionable list looks similar to Saturday’s match against Columbus for the Revs with Kevin Alston and Edgaras Jankauskas maybes with hamstring strains. But standout defender Cory Gibbs has been added to the list with a right quadriceps strain, making the backline for the Revolution very thin.
Defender Maurice Castro will also not make the trip, leaving only one true defender on the Revolution’s roster for the game, rookie Seth Sinovic. Sinovic, like Gibbs, has been a stand out all year for the Revolution; and after tomorrow’s game he will be the only player to have started every game this season for New England. Khano Smith, whose usual positon is in the midfield, played defense in the loss over the weekend and he may have to do it again tomorrow. Defensive midfielders, Joseph Niouky and Pat Phelan, will have to step-up and show their worth, while Chris Tierney may be asked to slide into a defensive role tomorrow.
Preston Burpo will be staying home as well. The Revolution goalkeeper has been busy this season and could use the break. Second year man, Bobby Shuttleworth, will earn his first minutes in a Revolution jersey as the starting goalkeeper and newly signed rookie, Tim Murray, will be his back-up.
On a positive note for the Revolution, Nico Colaluca will be able to play despite his red card in the New England’s last U.S. Open Cup game because this is a play-in game. The 23-year-old midfielder gives the team a boost in the midfield along with the return of Marko Perovic who was suspended for Saturday’s loss because of a red card he received during the 4-0 loss to Chivas USA last Wednesday.
The Revolution will try to make do the best they can with their inexperienced line-up. There is no player over the age of 30 for the Revolution on the traveling roster and only two players making the trip have scored in the U.S. Open Cup – Kenny Mansally has a goal, and Tierney has two assists, all coming in 2008.
For the Revolution to make another run at a U.S. Open Cup like they did in 2007 when they won the tournament, they will need rookie goal scorers Zack Schilaski and Zak Boggs to keep scoring like they have when the chances have arisen. Schilawski is the team’s leading goalscorer with four goals in league play, and Boggs scored his first ever goals in the MLS on Saturday against the Crew. The rookie combo have combined for six of the Revs eight goals, a staggering ratio, and they will need to bring the goods again tomorrow if New England should advance in the tournament.
The game can be seen on a live video feed at either revolutionsoccer.net or newyorkredbulls.com.
Kevin Koczwara is a contributing writer and editor for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.