Thursday, June 19, 2014
Reserves lift Revs in U.S. Open Cup
By Brian O'Connell
RICHMOND, Va. -- The opportunity to get greater insight into the nuts and bolts of his roster is one that Revolution coach Jay Heaps has always embraced. And Wednesday's fourth-round U.S. Open Cup game afforded him one such chance.
Fielding a lineup comprised of regulars and reserves alike, Heaps watched his hybrid lineup stake a trio of early goals en route to a 3-2 win over the Richmond Kickers at City Stadium.
Stephen McCarthy (15) celebrates with Revolution teammates after scoring a goal.
"You look for these moments," Heaps said. "We wanted to have a strong blended team for this game, (and) put in guys that earned minutes."
Among those whom Heaps alluded to were Stephen McCarthy, who hadn't played a single minute this season, and Steve Neumann, who had yet to earn a start in league action this season. Naturally, both were ready to show their coach why they belonged in the lineup.
Nine minutes into the match, McCarthy, who was voted 2012 Revolution Defender of the Year by the media, thumped a corner kick from Neumann into the back of the net to put the guests in command early.
"I just kind of pushed the marker away and went near post," McCarthy said. "It kind of hit off the top of the mask I was wearing and found my nose so that wasn't too fun, but it was just a great ball."
McCarthy sported the clear mask for the first half due to a broken nose he suffered during a collision with Scott Caldwell that occurred training last week. Not surprisingly the mask was gone during the second half amid the high temperatures at City Stadium, which hovered in the mid-90s.
While the masked man certainly made his presence felt early, he wasn't the only reserve who impacted the match.
Neumann, who provided the service on McCarthy's strike, would get the chance to scribble his name on the scoresheet as well.
On a ball that Diego Fagundez sent along the right channel, it appeared that Patrick Mullins was ready to score a second Revolution goal. But even though he slipped past an onrushing defender, he didn't have the angle to shoot with his preferred left foot.
So he did the next best thing: he sent it ahead of Neumann, who timed his run perfectly to deposit his fellow rookie's pass into the back of the net in the 35th minute.
"Pat did a great job of holding the ball up like he's done all year, and luckily found me right in front of the net, so I didn't have much to do once it got to me," Neumann said with a laugh. "I definitely finished it well."
Neumann may have downplayed the effort and skill that went into his goal -- the first of his pro career -- but Heaps was certainly a fan of the goal, which put the Revolution back on top after George Davis IV leveled it in the 24th minute.
"I loved his goal," Heaps said of Neumann's tally. "I loved the way he connected early in that first half. I thought he drifted a little bit in the second half -- I'd like to see him continue to make an impact."
The second half proved to be a trying time for both Neumann and McCarthy. While Neumann's first-half form may have faded after the break, McCarthy, who last saw game action October 19, 2013 vs. Columbus, saw his night cut short in the 77th minute.
"I haven't played enough minutes to really get fit," McCarthy said. "So I started cramping and I had to step off."
Although their evenings may not have ended the way they wanted, McCarthy and Neumann both earned the praise of their coach, who appreciated their willingness to answer the bell on a steamy Wednesday evening.
"I thought overall, a lot of these guys, Neumann, Scotty, McCarthy and Donnie -- they haven't played a ton of minutes," Heaps said. "So asking them to go 90 (minutes) was a big ask in this heat, and I thought they managed that well."