The New England Revolution have probably never needed the Gold Cup break more than they do right now. Struggling mightily in MLS play, the Revs do have a reprieve today with a rematch against the New York Red Bulls in the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup.
Once again we chat with Jonathan Machlin of Once A Metro as we did last week, but not about the MLS regular season, but instead about the magic of the Cup. Be sure to check out my answers to his questions over on their site.
TBM: The Red Bulls gave up two quick goals to the Revs in that last MLS matchup, what went wrong there and how will Jesse Marsch and RBNY adjust in the USOC?
JM: As best I can tell the Red Bulls consistently failed to mark attackers lying far off the ball and were then brutally exposed against the cross on the two Revs goals. If you watch the Revs two goals you'll notice they used this exact same move both times: Play far from the ball, pass/cross deep when the defender steps off of him, and watch the magic happen.
To avoid this in Thursday's game, I can envision Marsch deploying the 5-3-1-1 formation he used against the Union two weeks ago, where he basically keeps the team in a Prevent Defense in the hopes that they can score on the one or two shots on goal they get (and to his credit it almost worked in regulation).
However, it seems more likely that he will simply make two or three lineup changes: Bringing in CB Aurelien Collin (if he's healthy this week) and DM Tyler "AmeriKante" Adams (back from last week's suspension), and possibly deploying Ryan Meara as goalkeeper.
TBM: That dagger from Veron has separated RBNY from the teams at the bottom of the East standings. Chicago, Toronto and NYCFC are likely playoff teams but has RBNY clawed their way into the group of four teams fighting for the last three spots?
JM: Not quite yet. It certainly helps that they own wins over two of those other three teams - Atlanta United and Columbus - and it's good to see that they'd be above the red line on points per game if the season ended today.
But unless they show a more consistent ability to get points on the road and take full advantage of the Red Bull Arena home field edge, they might be in a dogfight for a playoff spot until the very end of the season.
TBM: I don't want to jump ahead...but, the winner of this game I believe plays the winner of Miami-Cincinnati so one of us is going to the Finals right?
JM: Well, let's not forget: Orlando City, Columbus, Chicago and Atlanta all probably thought they were locks to move on to the next round when they drew Miami and Cincinnati too.
That said, if the Revs win, I think they're a lock - especially since: a) they'll be playing their A-team in the Semis, and b) they'll probably have Rowe and Agudelo back to augment the lineup. As for the Red Bulls, the team has had so many Jekyll & Hyde performances this year that not even a game against a 2nd division team can be considered a guaranteed win. I'm not sure there's a single lifelong Red Bulls fan who would be 'shocked' if they dropped a game to Miami/Cincinnati, especially given how bad they've been at times this year.
Predicted XI (4-2-3-1):
GK Ryan Meara
DF Connor Lade - Aaron Long - Aurelien Collin - Sal Zizzo
DM Felipe - Tyler "AmeriKante" Adams
AM Alex Muyl - Sacha Kljestan - Daniel Royer
FW Bradley Wright-Phillips
Injuries: PROBABLE - DF Aurelien Collin
Int'l Duty: DF Kemar Lawrence (Jamaica), DF Michael Amir Murillo (Panama)