There will be no US Open Cup run for New England in 2018.
What was supposed to be a warm homecoming for Louisville native Andrew Farrell turned out to be decidedly cold on this hot June night, as USL-side Louisville City FC took down the New England Revolution 3-2.
Despite fielding a lineup featuring 10 new faces from Saturday’s win over the Red Bulls, the night started with promise, as the Revs were gifted a goal in just the 5th minute. LouCity ‘keeper Tim Dobrowolski mishandled a back pass that a lurking Mark Segbers easily poached into the net for his first goal as a member of the Revs. However, the USL champs, who were in attack mode for nearly the entire ninety minutes, tied the match at 1-1 just six minutes later. Wingback Oscar Jimenez, who leads the club in assists, was on the receiving end this time, deftly using his left peg to punch a diagonal cross from former Houston Dynamo draftee Brian Ownby inside the left post past Rev netminder Brad Knighton.
The Revs would pull ahead a second time, again from a Louisville City miscue. Right back Brandon Bye sent in a long ball to Femi Hollinger-Janzen, whose shot from left of the 6-yard box was inadvertently cleared into the goal by defender Pat McMahon, putting New England ahead 2-1 in the 26th minute.
The Revs would use their first of three subs, as Jalil Anibaba was summoned to replace rookie Nicolas Samayoa at centerback due to injury in the 36th minute. The Boys in Purple would draw even again shortly thereafter, with Jimenez feeding top scorer Cameron Lancaster, who slotted a well-placed ball in traffic inside the left post to level the match at 2-2.
New England had a golden chance to take a halftime lead when Brian Wright eluded a couple Louisville defenders on a breakaway to the goal. However, his clear shot from an angle skipped just wide of the far post.
The second half saw New England continue to control much of the possession, but Louisville City create more chances. In the 56th minute, midfielder George Davis IV fired a close-range missile off Knighton and then sent the rebound into the stands. Shortly afterward, Juan Agudelo came on in place of Gabriel Somi to bolster the attack for the Revs.
LouCity found the eventual game-winner in the 62nd minute courtesy of Ownby. The forward took a pass in a central attacking area from fellow striker Davis IV, dribbled to his right, fended off Scott Caldwell’s attempt at a tackle, and then drilled a rocket into the side netting, easily beating Knighton to his right. It was arguably the biggest goal in the club’s short history.
Kelyn Rowe replaced Femi in the 75th minute after the latter took a knock. The Revs’ second all-time leading scorer in US Open Cup play, trailing only the legendary Taylor Twellman, sent two decent crosses into the box in stoppage time, only to see headers by Bye and Anibaba easily saved. The final whistle blew, sealing the Revs’ bitter fate for posterity.
First-year manager Friedel rolled out a 4-2-3-1 lineup heavy on seldom-used players. Wright got the nod at striker, with Femi and Segbers on the wings and Zach Herivaux orchestrating the attack at number ten. Caldwell and Wilfried Zahibo posted as holding mids, while Somi, Samayoa, Farrell, and Bye formed the backline. Knighton replaced Matt Turner between the pipes.
The Revs held advantages in just about every statistical category, with the glaring exceptions being shots, shots on goal, and corners. New England outpossessed Louisville City FC 60%-40%, but they were outshot 15-9 (7-4 on target) and outcornered 6-3.
New England took a different tactical approach in this match, largely eschewing a high-press that tries to force turnovers in favor of more controlled buildups and counter-attack opportunities. Clearly, this didn’t work, as the LouCity backend was rarely troubled. The Revolution played tentatively, lacked any sense of urgency late, and generally seemed to be the second-best team on the field for the majority of the evening.
If one were to pick a man of the match for New England, one could make a strong case for hometown hero Andrew Farrell. Despite having played a full 90 minutes just three short days ago, the former Louisville Cardinal was lively, making several highlight-reel tackles to shut down Louisville City scoring chances. Unfortunately, it was in vain, as several of his teammates — some trying to impress their boss on the big stage — didn’t put in noteworthy shifts.
With the US Open Cup now in the rearview mirror, the Revolution can focus on league play. They return to action on Saturday, June 9, at 8:30, traveling to Illinois to face long-time conference nemesis Chicago Fire at Toyota Park.