The New England Revolution II kicked off their 2021 USL League One season on Saturday as they faced off against Fort Lauderdale CF.
Revs II looked to start the 2021 season on a good foot. Something head coach Clint Peay and several Revs II players touched upon in the lead-up to the season opener was starting the 2021 season out strong. Revs II ended their 2020 campaign with a 5-8-3 record after a slow 1-6-2 start to the season.
It was a mix of new and familiar faces in the Revs II starting XI. Goalkeeper Joe Rice made his return after suffering a knee injury around the midway point of the 2020 campaign. Connor Presley and Ryan Spaulding returned to their outside back positions as SuperDraft picks Francois Dulysse and Sean O’Hearn filled out the Revs II backline.
The returning Damian Rivera and Hikaru Fujiwara started in the midfield accompanied by new signee Jake Rozhanski along with Revs academy player, Noel Buck. We also saw the tandem of homegrown Justin Rennicks and a newly signed Ryan Sierakowski up top.
The Revs II defense was put to work early in the match as Fort Lauderdale earned themselves a free kick just outside the box after midfielder Noel Buck’s foul on Abel Caputo. Fort Lauderdale’s free-kick was directly aimed at keeper Joe Rice, who put an end to Fort Lauderdale’s offensive threat.
It was a lackluster start for the Revs II offense. Although the team was able to build up some good offensive runs, the squad was unable to put anything together in the final third of the field.
Fort Lauderdale was able to put together a series of excellent offensive runs, but just like Revs II, they were unable to turn any of those runs into goals.
As broadcaster Josh Eastern said during the broadcast of Saturday’s match, it truly was a game of two halves for both New England and Fort Lauderdale.
After a dormant first half, the Revs II offense came alive within the first five minutes of the second half. After having Rivera’s shot blocked by the keeper, Fujiwara’s centering pass found Sierakowski in the center of the box, who slotted the ball into the back of the net. Giving Revs II a 1-0 lead over Fort Lauderdale in the 50th minute.
After fouling Shaan Hundal from behind, Rozhanski would be booked with a yellow card in the 54th minute.
Spaulding came close to increasing Revs II’s lead in the 57th minute as he found himself uncovered inside the box, but his shot was just wide of goal.
Rennicks looked to extend the lead in the 65th as the Revs II found themselves with a three on two advantage inside the box. Unfortunately, Fort Lauderdale’s defense caught up and pressured Rennicks to shoot the ball wide right of the net for a Fort Lauderdale goal kick. Not the greatest look for Rennicks as he had trailing attackers in Rivera, Fujiwara, and Spaulding, but decided to try and take on the defense all by himself.
Revs II’s first substitution came in the 65th minute as academy player Michael Tsicolias would come on and replace Rennicks.
The young forward Tsicolias nearly made an impact in the 75th minute as he was able to find the ball inside the box after taking a deflection of a Fort Lauderdale defender and put the ball in the back of the net. The goal would not be awarded as Tsicolias was in an offsides position when the ball deflected off the defender.
Revs II would perform a triple substitution in the 76th minute as Meny Silva, Morris Matthews, and Dennis Ramirez would come on for Rivera, Rozhansky, and Fujiwara.
The Revs II goal post wasn’t the only thing rumbling Saturday night though as the game was paused in the 82nd minute for a weather delay due to lightning in the area.
After the weather subsided, both teams returned to the pitch to complete the final ten minutes of the USL League One season opener. As the rain poured down at DRV PINK Stadium, so did Fort Lauderdale’s offense as they looked to find the equalizer in the final minutes of the match.
The final Revs II substitution would come in the 82nd minute as academy product Cole Dewhurst would come on for Sierakowski.
The Revs II held off Fort Lauderdale’s offense in the final minutes of the game and were able to pick up the 1-0 victory. Although a rocky start, Revs II was able to accomplish their goal of getting off to a good start.
Revs II will look to continue their strong start on April 17th as they host the Richmond Kickers at Gillette Stadium at 7:00 PM.