One constant on the field last season for the New England Revolution was Steve Neumann. He appeared as a substitute in 20 games, started three, and wasted no time in adapting to the rigors of a professional season.
By all accounts and measures it was a wildly successful rookie campaign, yet the 23-year-old midfielder has been somewhat absent from the Revolution lineup in 2015. He’s only appeared as a substitute five times, one of which came in this past weekend’s 2-0 win over the Chicago Fire.
For Neumann, that appearance was one that boosted his personal spirits, but also was a sign of more positive things to come for the Revs.
"I can’t lie it was a good feeling getting back out on the field," he said. "Obviously in a winning effort it feels good to get out there and it’s a different feeling in the locker room and everything when you get the win. So, the spirits are high again and we’re going to look to continue this throughout the next couple weeks."
Although not directly stated, Neumann was hinting at this Wednesday’s game: a U.S. Open Cup clash against the Charlotte Independence. Jay Heaps has already stated after the Fire match that Neumann is set for a longer shift on Wednesday, which is something that the Pennsylvania himself is craving.
He is anxiously looking forward to the opportunity that awaits on Wednesday and is hopeful that it will lead to more playing time down the road in all competitions.
"I know we have a deep roster here, but I think I can contribute in a big way for this team and I think the Open Cup is definitely a good opportunity to get some minutes," Neumann said.
If history is any indication, the Open Cup is a time that Neumann can greatly benefit from. In the same round of the tournament last season, the midfielder started against the Rochester Rhinos and used the game as a springboard for more playing time.
While appearances are valued by each player, the Open Cup also with provide Neumann with game fitness that one can only get by playing. Practices throughout the week are competitive and an opportunity to impress Heaps, but nothing replicates the opportunity Neumann has ahead of him on Wednesday.
"It’s good for one thing just to get game fitness," Neumann said. "There’s only so much you can do with practice and running on the treadmill to get in game shape. Just getting 90 minutes on a week by week basis going is definitely good going forward."
On top of all the excitement that goes with an expected start, Neumann is also anxiously awaiting where the game will be played. The fourth round match is set to be played in Cambridge, Mass. at Harvard University’s Solider Field.
The fans will be right on top of the field and Neumann insists that type of environment will motivate the players.
"The fans enjoy it and the fans like to show up to those Open Cup games that are in smaller, more tight environments where they can be close to the action," he said. "We enjoy it too. It’s great playing in big arenas but those small, intimate ones can be just as special. "
With everything considered, Wednesday night has the potential to be a big occasion for the second year player.
"If we keep advancing and I keep playing well it should lead to more minutes," Neumann said. "Just got to keep at it, stay patient, and keep working hard."