After two weeks off, the New England Revolution will now play two games in four days as the club will travel to North Carolina for the US Open Cup before heading to Vancouver to resume league play. It's a busy stretch for the Revs, but one that they're prepared for ahead of this season's second stanza.
"We’ve been building for this a little while in terms of the time off, but ramping up the time that we were here, but now we are back in," Head coach Jay Heaps explained. "We’ve had the time off and guys are rested and decompressed and looking forward to the rest of this year."
With such a daunting schedule ahead, don't be surprised to see a number of reserve players take the field against the Carolina RailHawks of the NASL. Open Cup games have historically provided fringe players with the opportunity to make their case for more minutes and this year should be no different. Look for veterans like Darrius Barnes, Teal Bunbury, and Brad Knighton to be in the starting XI.
Heaps could also use the Open Cup to introduce Jordan McCrary, who has yet to play for the Revs despite being selected tenth overall in the 2016 SuperDraft. The Unversity of North Carolina graduate did play one game for the Rochester Rhinos (USL) but Wednesday could mark the first time he dons a Revolution jersey in an official match.
"I’ve thought about it for a while," McCrary said. "It’s one of those dreams. You don’t want to just get to MLS and get on a team and just practice. You want to get on the field and show that you can be here and play."
One player that knows what it's like to debut in the Open Cup is Zachary Herivaux. The Homegrown product made his professional debut last year, coming on as a late substitute against the Charlotte Independence (USL). Although he's only played four minutes since the three he recorded that night, Herivaux, a regular in Heaps' game-day 18, is hoping to make a big impact on Wednesday night.
"It’s a great opportunity for me and all the other guys that want to get out on the field," Herivaux noted. "It’s a stage where you get your chance and we want to win, so we are going to come out with a strong team and try to get the best result and show the coach why we should be on the field."
Regardless of who's on the field, the Revs will be looking for victory, especially after last year's 1-0 loss to a lower division team. The Revolution know that they have a tough challenge ahead of them in the form of the RailHawks, but also know that they have the talent to advance.
"Going down to Carolina, it’s not an easy place to go," Knighton said. "They’ve done very well in the Open Cup the last couple of years and we’re aware of that. I think this year we’re fully focused on this tournament and looking forward to hopefully getting a W and move on to the next round."