Even if the Revs crash out of the playoffs early, or fail to make it at all, they may still look back on 2016 as a silverware season. A 3-1 victory over the Chicago Fire at Gillette Stadium on Thursday night has booked the New England Revolution a spot in the US Open Cup Final.
New England, being the home side, took control of the match early in the first half. Diego Fagundez played a clever flick in traffic to Kelyn Rowe, who cut inside the box but was hacked down, and the ref wasted no time pointing to the spot. With usual penalty-taker Lee Nguyen on the bench, Kei Kamara stepped up to take it and did not miss, giving the Revs the lead in the 16th minute.
The Revs spent most of the first half as the dominant force on the pitch, but Chicago would not go quietly. They exploited the home side's poor defending in the 40th minute, starting with a poor clearing header from Andrew Farrell. The ball spilled weakly to Fagundez, who whiffed his attempted clearance. Chicago collected and played in to Michael de Leeuw, who fed David Accam. The Ghanaian speedster made some deft cuts with Revolution defenders tumbling all around him before finishing off the base of the right post to bring the match level.
Perhaps embarrassed by the circumstances of the equalizer, New England came roaring right back. A Chris Tierney corner was headed on frame by Kamara, but a Fire defender managed to nod it off target. Unfortunately, that was only as far as Je-Vaughn Watson lurking inside the six, who pushed his head forward and stabbed it home from point-blank range to restore the lead in the 42nd minute.
The second half was mostly the Revs' game, but the match wasn't put away until the 85th minute. Rowe, Kamara, Lee Nguyen, and Teal Bunbury exchanged passes around the top of the box before Bunbury ended up with the ball outside the D. He skipped to his left, and then decided to have a go, ripping a daisycutter low toward the far post that beat Lampson to solidify the win.
The show wasn't over yet, though, as in the 89th minute there was an altercation on the pitch. Accam barged Rowe in a late challenge, and the latter took exception, immediately getting up in Accam's face. There was some shoving, with suggestions of hands to the face or an elbow, and after conferring with his assistant, the referee gave Accam his marching orders and showed Rowe a yellow. Replay showed that Accam may have briefly had his hand on Rowe's throat, though it appeared to be more of a shove. The Red might have been harsh.
New England will face the winner of Los Angeles and Dallas in the Final.