BOSTON (July 13, 2017) – New England Revolution suffered a second heartbreak at the hands of hated rivals New York Red Bulls in the space of just eight days when Bradley Wright-Phillips popped up in the 87th minute to seal a 1-0 win for the visitors on a cold night in Boston. The 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal, played at Jordan Field on the campus of Harvard University, was testy from the opening whistle, with the Revs going down a man and suffering a second straight late loss to the Red Bulls, who now move on to the last four.
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The Revolution were the livelier team in the early stages of the first-half. A couple of tough tackles by giant defender Andy Farrell clearly signaled the home side were eager to avenge their heart-breaking league loss last week at Foxboro that midfielder Diego Fagundez said: “hurt more than most.” After just nine minutes, a fine piece of interplay between Fagundez, Kei Kamara and Lee Nguyen – starting his first 2017 Open Cup game – led to a dangerous shot from Chris Tierney that was blocked by a sliding scrum of Red Bulls defenders. The shouts from the Revolution attackers seemed to indicate they thought the effort was blocked illegally, perhaps with a hand. But the referee had other ideas.
The Red Bulls began to grow into the game around the 23rd minute, with chief creator Sacha Kljestan at the heart of all their dangerous moves. The New York captain was sending in devious service from corner-kicks and piercing long balls from the run of play, aiming for the channels and livewire striker – opportunist extraordinaire, Wright-Phillips.
By the time the half-hour mark arrived, it was the Red Bulls who were asking all the questions. Kljestan got on the end of a beautiful six-pass build-up along the right side, but his shot let him down and was well smothered by Brad Knighton in the Revolution goal. The visitors’ best chance of the period came shortly after, in the 41st minute, when a snap-shot from inside the area by Wright-Phillips forced another dazzling reflex save from Knighton, who was the only change in either Starting XI from the two teams’ meeting last week.
The Revolution came out from the Harvard University locker room (a five-minute walk away from the pitch and inside an ice rink) pressing high and hard on the Red Bulls. Although they managed to disrupt the New Jersey-based side’s rhythm coming out of the back, they were unable to create much in the way of concrete scoring chances. The one opportunity of note they did carve out fell to Teal Bunbury, who used his big frame to hold off a defender and charge in on goal. But instead of testing the keeper, he hit his effort wide of the post. Instead of the goal it looked to be, the Revs were hoofing back the other way and readying for a goal-kick.
The Revolution had another chance in the 74th minute – and it would turn out to be their last before everything fell apart. An inch-perfect, looping ball over the defense by Lee Nguyen was misjudged by Kamara. With the net at his mercy, the striker couldn’t quite decide whether to head for goal or control. In the end, he did neither and the play disintegrated.
In the very next minute, the Revs night went from bad night to game-over when Benjamin Angoua was shown a straight red for what the ref considered a stamp on Wright-Phillips. The home bench was furious with the decision, slightly less so than the fans who breathed a sigh of relief when Kljestan’s arcing shot hit the woodwork from the resulting restart.
The reprieve was short-lived. In the 87th minute, Wright Phillips popped up in the right place at the right time to poke home with his toe and kill off the game. It was a bread-and-butter finish for the English predator, who raced in behind the Revolution defense and held off a challenge before poking home a slide-rule piece of service from Felipe.
The 1-0 win sends the New York Red Bulls to the Semifinal round of the Open Cup for the first time since 2003. They will play the winner of the all-Division II Quarterfinal between Miami FC (NASL) and FC Cincinnati (USL) that was postponed for heavy weather last night and has yet to be rescheduled. The Red Bulls, who have never won an MLS Cup or an Open Cup, may just be sensing silverware in their future.