Teal Bunbury of the New England Revolution controls the ball in a Fourth Round match in the 2019 US Open Cup against the New York Red Bulls. Photo: Bob Larson
Down a man and after playing for more than 100 minutes, a quick-headed Teal Bunbury saw that a New York Red Bulls’ player had made a careless back pass in his general direction and quickly jumped on it before charging down the left side of the field. With defender Amro Tarek intercepting him at the corner of the 18-yard box and Tim Parker quickly joining, the Prior Lake, Minnesota native noticed the goalkeeper slightly out of position and the team captain quickly chipped a shot between the two and towards net.
The Red Bulls’ goalkeeper Ryan Meara jump wasn’t enough as the ball slipped just above the goalkeeper and under the crossbar to give the New England Revolution a 3-2 lead in the 109th minute. They would hold on to that lead to advance to the Round of 16.
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New England head coach Bruce Arena explained that while he’s happy his team came away with the win, he understands the year is long and sometimes in this competition one team can come into a match with an advantage, like rest, citing New York’s recent MLS match on the road last Saturday.
“I don’t think it’s the end all,” Arena said after the game. “But any coach with any team you wanna win, I’ve never not said I wanna win Open Cups. I think tonight was challenging for the Red Bulls having had a game on Saturday in Philadelphia so they have to make decisions on what’s in the best interests of their team. I think that’s the case with everyone in all cup competitions. Tonight we were the more rested team and that may have been a factor in allowing us to get through the last 30 minutes with ten players.”
Thanks to Bunbury’s eighth career Open Cup goal, his sixth as a Rev which ranks him second in club history, New York has lost back-to-back games after holding a lead in the second half. Last Saturday, the Red Bulls, who are missing several key players due to international call-ups, saw a 2-0 halftime lead disappear in a league game against the Philadelphia Union.
The loss also comes after the team held a man advantage for the entirety of the 30 minute extra time after Luis Caicedo earned his second yellow card of the match during second half stoppage time following a behind the back takedown of Alex Muyl five minutes into second half stoppage time.
After the game, Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas said even when his team was up a man, it can be a disadvantage. The Revolution change the way they play after 90 minutes and his team needs to adapt quickly while also still looking to attack a highly entrenched opponent.
“One of the dangers and difficulties is when you lose bad balls,” Armas said. “Understanding what the opposition is trying to do is important. It’s pretty clear; 4-4-1, bunker in, tight this way, and hope that we’re going to force balls or have a few turnovers, and catch us on the counter … Tonight, the message was to keep probing wide, have some patience, if it’s not on one side come back around, rest defense the way we say, pin them in.
“There’s little moments in there, you just have to make a play when it’s not so easy because there’s not a lot of space,” he added, noting the late chances his team had to equalize and force the game into penalty kicks.
Out of the gate, the home team, playing out of their USL Championship affiliated reserve team’s venue at Montclair State University, were playing catch up. A turnover by New York off the kickoff allowed the Revs to spring the ball down the left side. A series of team passes into the box were quickly followed up by a Juan Fernando Caicedo no-look back pass toward former New York homegrown prospect Juan Agudelo who, with Meara out of position, nudged the ball into a practically open net.
Juan Fernando Caicedo of the New England Revolution dribbles against the New York Red Bulls in the Fourth Round of the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Bob Larson
“It was a strange one, especially the way we started the match,” Armas said. “To be quite honest with you, in terms of the way we try to play with our pressing and our counter-pressing, it looked like a Red Bull team and a Red Bull performance that we were in control. When you really think about it of course it’s first goal we give up, a ball behind which we knew was coming all night long … and then we see the last goal. We didn’t feel threatened most of the night.”
New England kept the pressure on and off during the first half including a Juan Caicedo shot in the 9th minute from directly in front of the net that hit off the inner crossbar and straight down outside the goal line before coming back into play. A rebound attempt was stopped by the New York defense which became a common theme throughout the night.
With the Red Bulls looking to even early, the team implored a high press and started to create more chances. That paid off in the 19th minute when Sean Davis sent a long pass past the backline and in the lane of a charging Tom Barlow. The St. Louis native, who still leads New York Red Bulls II in goals this season despite being signed by the first team for over a month, made the run under pressure from defender Jalil Anibaba before stopping just enough to create some space and launch a left footed strike into the net past Revs keeper Matt Turner.
The goal was Barlow’s first for the Red Bulls in the Open Cup and his second overall after he scored with Chicago FC United in 2017 during the team’s upset of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the Second Round.
“I was just trying to get in behind,” Barlow said after the match, obviously disappointed with the result. “I felt like I could outrun some of those guys in the back and it was a great ball, set up nice for me. I was able to put it in the corner. Felt good.”
Alex Muyl of the New York Red Bulls has his shot blocked by Luis Caicedo of the New England Revolution in the Fourth Round of the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Bob Larson
Both teams enjoyed chances after that but couldn’t pull ahead, with New York controlling the ball more effectively and spending a lot of time in the visitors’ end while New England made constant quick runs against the home side.
The second half played out much more in Red Bulls favor to start. The group kept New England out of their end and eventually took the lead when Omir Fernandez, following a turnover by the Revolution and few passes outside of the box, found Cristian Cásseres Jr. at the top of the box. His shot was not unlike Bunbury’s winner later on, from distance and just between a jumping keeper and under the crossbar to take the lead.
With his team seemingly in control, Muyl had a chance to change the outlook of the match when he was taken down in the box about midway through the half and awarded a penalty kick. His 65th minute attempt was correctly dived on by Turner as it rolled towards the right corner as he forced it out. Muyl’s attempt to redeem himself moments later also came up short when his header off the ensuing corner kick was saved on the line.
After the match, Arena, who didn’t agree with the referees decision to award a penalty, said he believed the save was just another obstacle his team had to overcome to earn this win.
“I think we overcame a lot of obstacles tonight and really responded very well and were really deserving of this win,” Arena said.
The block came back to haunt one team and save another as the Revolution were able to find the late-game equalizer. A long pass from his own end found Bunbury in the left side of the box. After getting by Tarek for the first time on the night, he cut back to his right, shot low and to the opposite post to score his first of the game.
New England advances to the Round of 16 after falling last season in the Fourth Round. The team will learn who their next opponent will be when the draw is officially announced on Thursday, June 13.