The heat can make a player do crazy things. Whether it is in a World Cup match in Manaus or in a US Open Cup match in Richmond, warm weather wears on even the heartiest of players. At City Stadium on Wednesday night, the New England Revolution were able to beat the heat and the Richmond Kickers, besting their opponents from USL Pro by the score of 3-2.
The match started with both teams playing very contrasting styles. While the Kickers played with more energy and a bit more pace, the Revolution were patient, hoping the Kickers’ outburst would die off in the hot Richmond sun. Although New England would score first when a corner kick by Steve Neumann found the head of Stephen McCarthy, the Revolution opted to control possession and hope that the Kickers would chase them all around the pitch. That is exactly how the match played out early on with the midfield trio of Diego Fagundez, Lee Nguyen, and Neumann moving the ball effortlessly around the pitch.
Although this strategy worked for most of the first half, the Kickers gave the Revolution a few scares. In the 22nd minute, Kickers defender Henry Kalungi’s pass found midfielder Jason Yeisley on the outside. Yeisley made an excellent one-touch pass to striker George Davis IV who buried his shot past Revolution goalkeeper Brad Knighton to level the score. It was Davis’ third goal of the tournament, and fourth of his career.
Rather than panicking like many MLS sides do when a lower-league team scores in a US Open Cup match, the Revolution continued to play their style of football. Perhaps it is due to the Revolution manager playing most of his starters, but the Revs did not seemed fazed by the goal and looked to get another back.
That moment would come in the 34th minute when Revolution forward Patrick Mullins found Neumann at the top of the box. Neumann, who played his college soccer nearby at Georgetown University, buried his shot past Kickers goalkeeper Joe Willis to give the Revolution the 2-1 lead. Mullins, who also played locally with the University of Maryland where he won the 2013 Hermann Trophy, made Kickers defender William Yomby miss which opened up the center of the pitch.
The Revolution scored again four minutes later when Mullins intercepted a pass between Yomby and Willis and poached New England’s third goal of the match. Mullins has five goals in all competitions for the Revolution in just nine matches this season.
The Kickers were unable to muster anything the rest of the first half. This is partially due to having to chase the Revolution all around the pitch. The Revolution defending duo of Jose Goncalves and Chris Tierney really did not give them many avenues to maneuver in New England defensive half.
At the start of the second half, Kickers coach Leigh Cowlishaw opted to go all in and brought attack-minded midfielders Cristiano Francois and Matthew Delicate. The two substitutions immediately infused some energy and pace into a lethargic Kickers attack. In particular, Francois’ runs on the outside made the Revolution defense move out of the box.
The main battle in the second half was between Delicate and Goncalves with the two big horses going at multiple balls in the air. Delicate was able to get the best of Goncalves in the 72nd minute when he finished off a cross by Davis to narrow the Revolution’s lead by the score of 3-2.
The Kickers had one other opportunity to even up the score in the 89th minute when Samuel hit a shot that was on target that went over the cross-bar. They also had a free kick and consecutive corners in injury time that amounted to very little.
The New England Revolution move on to play the Rochester Rhinos of USL PRO at home. They are currently on break from MLS action because of the World Cup.
The Kickers will face the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Sunday in Pittsburgh. The match will be at 7:30 p.m. and will be available on the Kickers website.
MATCH REPLAY: NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION AT RICHMOND KICKERS
New England Revolution-Brad Knighton, Chris Tierney, Jose Goncalves, Stephen McCarthy, Darrius Barnes, Steven Caldwell, Diego Fagundez, Steve Neumann, Lee Nguyen (Charlie Davies 61’,) Donald Smith, and Patrick Mullins.
Goals- McCarthy (8’,) Neumann (35’,) Mullins (40’)
Yellow Cards- Fagundez (32’,)
Richmond Kickers- Joe Willis, Hugh Roberts, Henry Kalungi, Yomby William (Shay Spitz 45’,) Shane Johnson, George Davis IV, Sascha Goerres, Luke Vercollone, Juan Arbelaez (Christiano Francois 45’), Jason Yeisley (Matthew Delicate 45’), and Samuel Asante.
NE – Stephen McCarthy (Steve Neumann) 8
RIC – George Davis IV (Jason Yeisley) 24
NE – Steve Neumann (Patrick Mullins) 35
NE – Patrick Mullins (unassisted) 39
RIC – Matthew Delicate (George Davis IV) 73
NE – Diego Fagundez (caution) 34
RIC – William Yomby (caution) 40
NE – Lee Nguyen (caution) 45
NE – Darrius Barnes (caution) 87