BOSTON – Soccer in the city. It’s got a nice ring to it, no?
Last night, the Revolution shipped up to Boston to host the Red Bulls for a fourth round U.S. Open Cup tie at Harvard University. What unfolded was, and perhaps will be, the most Revolution memorable match of the year.
Here are 30 thoughts/observations/random tidbits from Wednesday’s 4-2 Revolution win over the Red Bulls.
1. What is it about Kelyn Rowe in Open Cup action? Not that he’s a complete slouch in league action, by any means. His league-leading five assists are proof positive that he certainly has the chops to cut it in MLS. But his two tallies – the first coming moments after the opening whistle – now gives him the following career Open Cup stat line: 3 games, 5 goals, 2 assists.
2. Stats are nice, of course, but the most noticeable aspect of Rowe’s form in Open Cup play is his shooting accuracy. How many times have we seen his ambitious efforts stray well wide or high of the woodwork in league action? For whatever reason, those same shots seem to the find the back of the net a lot more often when the Open Cup trophy’s at stake.
3. Can you believe that it took nearly four years for the Revolution to “host” an Open Cup game? Their home tilt last came in a 2-1 loss to the Harrisburg City Islanders at Veterans Stadium in New Britain, Conn. You may recall that it was also the game that saw then-manager Steve Nicol use all of his subs at halftime, only to have his squad decimated by injuries and ejections in the latter stages, leaving him with only nine men at the final whistle.
4. Unlike the debacle in Hardware City, Wednesday’s match was memorable for all the right reasons. Namely, the atmosphere, which allowed 2,500 hearty Revolution supporters (along with a respectable contingent of Red Bulls backers) to get an up-close-and-personal vantage point of their favorite club. The chants (the “It’s all your fault” chant directed toward Ryan Meara after Rowe’s first goal was a personal favorite), the illicit blue smoke bomb, the energy of the entire crowd and the cozy confines of Soldiers Field Soccer Stadium all made it a night that many of us won’t soon forget.
5. A few bones to pick, though: Traffic was terrible (even by Beantown standards), the parking was chaotic, and there was no reliable wi-fi to be found. Unreliable wi-fi at a sporting event is a writer’s worst nightmare, and by that, I mean to say that it’s my worst nightmare. Aside from evil, knife-wielding Carebears (a personal bugaboo).
6. That is the last complaint about Wednesday night. Honestly. I’m not going to let something like that taint my memory of the match. In fact, the lack of accessible wi-fi allowed a few of my fellow writers and I the opportunity to escape the press box, take up a post near the Red Bulls bench, and take down the accounts the old-fashioned way: Out in the open, with a notebook and pen. And that’s the way it should be, in my own personal opinion.
7. In their last three games in all competitions, the Revolution have played to the following scorelines: 5-0 vs. Galaxy, 0-0 D.C. United, 4-2 Red Bulls. That’s nine combined goals against the upper crust of the league, and a blanking against the bottom dwellers. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
8. Kalifa Cisse struggled. He didn’t have a terrible game, but he didn’t have a great one, either. Note: Kalifa Cisse’s making $445,000 this year.
9. Darrius Barnes did not struggle. At all. He may not be an automatic starter in league action, but it’d be hard to argue that he wouldn’t be an automatic selection elsewhere in the league. He could justifiably be upset that he isn’t getting the minutes he deserves, but instead of bitching and moaning about it, he lets his performance do the talking. A class act and true professional.
10. Fourth official Robert Stibiga endured plenty of abuse from both sides. This is probably typical for every fourth official in every soccer game that has ever been played, but to witness it from only a couple of yards away was eye-opening.
11. Who expected to see Juan Agudelo make an appearance?
12. Or Scott Caldwell, for that matter?
13. Has there ever been a Revolution team as deep as the one Heaps is managing right now? My goodness.
14. It was touching to see Matt Reis’ father-in-law, John Odom, on hand for the game. You probably recall that Odom was seriously injured during the Boston Marathon bombings, and his condition was touch-and-go in the days and weeks that followed. He appeared in good spirits, and watched the game near the Revolution bench.
15. Also touching to see: Rowe celebrating that first goal by running toward Odom and incorporating him into post-goal gathering. “I think seeing him here tonight gave us that lift just to start the game and we wanted to give back to him a little bit,” Rowe said. “I wanted to give back to him a little bit as well – to say we’re there for him.”
16. With a few exceptions, that was pretty much a legit first-team Red Bull XI that coughed up four goals.
17. Nice to see former Harvard striker Andre Akpan make his way into the match late. Something tells me he had friends and family on hand to watch him return to his old stomping grounds.
18. Somewhat lost in the whole “soccer in Boston” storyline: The fact that the Revolution were playing within walking distance of the site of the first soccer game ever played in the U.S. back in 1862. The site? Boston Common, of course.
19. A.J. Soares most famous personal friend, U.S. Women’s National Team striker Alex Morgan, was on hand for the game. The Women’s National team is in town for training leading up to Saturday’s friendly against South Korea at Gillette.
20. A number of Boston Breakers players were on hand, as well.
21. Saer Sene went with a super casual look on the sidelines, while many of his fellow teammates who didn’t dress donned the popular Revolution track jackets.
22. By the way, those jackets are probably the nicest the Revolution have ever worn. Shame on adidas for not making them available to the supporters, many of whom would gladly pony up the $90 they retail at for the ones available for other clubs.
23. The 4-2 win earned the Revolution a Jun. 26 quarterfinal date with the same D.C. United that came to Foxborough last weekend and pilfered a point.
24. The question is: Will Ben Olsen still be around for the quarterfinal game?
25. We all know the Revolution don’t move a lot of merch in comparison to other clubs, but there’s got to be a way that they can incorporate a third jersey for Open Cup games. Yes, it’s cool that the white kits are the designated “Open Cup” kits and have been for quite some time. But who wouldn’t want to see an Open Cup-only kit? Perhaps something similar to the Union’s Bethlehem Steel-inspired kit, something that pays homage to a previous local Cup champion, like the Fall River Marksmen?
26. Remember when the Revolution couldn’t muster a shot on target earlier this season? On Wednesday, they racked up nine. And Saer Sene and Diego Fagundez weren’t even on the field.
27. The Red Bulls team bus was late to the field. Surely, they were given the same heads up on the traffic situation that pretty much everyone else was given in advance of the game.
28. You don’t often see bulletin board material come from Open Cup games, but tell me that Heaps won’t bring up this little nugget from Mike Petke the next time the Revolution and Red Bulls meet on Oct. 5: “Like I said, we lost to a mediocre team because we were way less than mediocre.”
29. Makes you wonder if having Thierry Henry available would’ve helped.
30. If the Revolution beat D.C. on Jun. 26, can we please, please, PLEASE do this again in July?