The New England Revolution resume U.S. Open Cup play on Wednesday night against D.C. United in the Nation's Capital. Both teams have found success in the competition, though the Revs have had a more consistent run of dominance thus far.
United's abysmal league season got a much-needed boost with a 1-0 win over San Jose last weekend, but they remain firmly out of the playoff picture. After beating Philadelphia 3-1 to earn a spot in the quarterfinals of the Cup, however, they find themselves in pole position to preserve some measure of dignity from a terrible 2013 campaign.
Today we put together a Q&A with Adam Taylor of Black and Red United, SB Nation's D.C. United blog.
TBM: Is that a league win I spy on the list of results from last weekend? I dare to ask - how did it feel to beat San Jose? Do you think that performance will spark a little resurgence, or at least a fight for respectability out of what has become a pretty dire season?
AT: You remember that joy you had when you were a child, eating pizza from that out-of-town place you only got to visit every year or so? Winning for the first time in 105 days felt something like eating that pizza. Every bit as delicious as you remember, and you just hope you get to taste it again before you go home - or that they open a restaurant back in your hometown so you don't have to wait another forever to have it again. Now that I've stretched the metaphor to its breaking point... I can't say whether it will spark a resurgence in the team's league performance, but it should give United a much needed boost of confidence heading into the Cup quarterfinals. At this point, even with more than half of the season to play, D.C. are out of playoff contention, so this trophy is the only thing left to play for, so every little bit helps. The rest of the league campaign will be about building a roster and a platform to develop from next year.
TBM: Your last Open Cup outing was a 3-1 spanking of high-flying Philadelphia. Talk to us a little bit about that win. What was United's game plan, how well was it executed, and do you think the Union were putting in a full or near-full effort in that match?
AT: D.C. looked to get after Philly in that game. The midfield pressed a bit higher up the field, and United looked to get into the attack quickly. The fact they were able to do it was the big departure from the season to that point. Mostly, though, it was DeRo actually looking like DeRo for the first time in 2013. Dwayne De Rosario scored all three goals in the game, playing a very strong game on both sides of the ball - in fact, turnovers in the Union half directly led to two of his three goals. Even if they didn't look particularly engaged on the night, the Union did put out a mostly first-choice side, and D.C. finally put together a competent attacking performance. They did the same thing for the first hour against San Jose over the weekend, so maybe the team has figured something out, after all.
TBM: With the playoffs a non-factor for you guys going forward, are you expecting Ben Olsen to put all his eggs in the Open Cup basket and start fielding first-choice elevens, starting on Wednesday? Feel free to predict the lineup while you're at it.
AT: Absolutely. Olsen hasn't been shy about saying that the top priority for the rest of the season is this tournament. De Rosario was rested in last weekend's win against San Jose - and I'm sure you know how DeRo loves playing against his former teams, so it is somewhat of a deal there - specifically so that he'd be 100% for the Open Cup game against New England. The one change from the First XI, other than for injury or international transfer issues, should be Joe Willis in goal, as Ben Olsen seems to have named him the Cup 'keeper (a move I agree with to help the talented backup's development). The rest of the roster: (4-2-3-1, R-to-L) Chris Korb, Conor Shanosky, Daniel Woolard, Taylor Kemp; John Thorrington, Perry Kitchen; Nick DeLeon, Dwayne De Rosario, Chris Pontius; Carlos Ruiz.