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New England Revolution 0 - Pittsburgh Riverhounds 1: 3 U.S. Open Cup Thoughts
The Revs USOC journey has come to an end
The New England Revolution returned to U.S. Open Cup play but there journey will be coming to an end after a defeat to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
Bruce Arena trotted out a rotated squad but still featured some important players against the USL Championship side. Designated Player Giacomo Vrioni and veteran Jozy Altidore were the striker pairing up top while Jack Panayotou and Latif Blessing comprised the midfield with Damian Rivera and Justin Rennicks on the wings.
Ben Sweat gave DeJuan Jones a break while Joshua Bolma played in place of Brandon Bye. Omar Gonzalez and Christian Makoun also allowed Andrew Farrell and Dave Romney to have a night off.
Finally, in net, MVP candidate Djordje Petrovic took a seat on the bench in favor of backup goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr. Former Rev Edward Kizza started against his former team while former Revs II player Michael DeShields also made the starting XI for Pittsburgh.
But what do you need to know about Tuesday’s loss? Here are three thoughts.
1- A rough night for Giacomo Vrioni
As the lone DP on the pitch, Vrioni looked like he was in a position to dominate and find the back of the net.
But Vrioni actually struggled. He showed some rust after missing the FC Cincinnati game due to an injury. He failed to show his skill and looked poor against Pittsburgh.
Along with not being on the same page with his teammates, Vrioni struggled playing with his back to goal. It is a part of his game that he will need to work on if he wants to become a more complete striker. It also could be the difference between him making the starting XI with Bobby Wood being quite talented in this area of the game.
When Vrioni received the ball, he looked clunky and failed to be a threat in the box. He had only one shot on net and was far from a threat in the box. More is expected from the DP striker, especially against lesser talent.
Vrioni didn’t make the right runs and just looked sloppy on the night. Hopefully he will perform better when New England returns to league play this weekend.
2 - Too many chances
The Riverhounds received the majority of the chances to start the game which was quite concerning for New England. Pittsburgh had some of the best chances of the first half and had the opportunity to take the lead in the match.
Eventually, the Riverhounds would strike in the 44th minute Danny Griffin snuck a shot past Edwards Jr to give Pittsburgh a lead as they entered the half. The goal killed any momentum New England might have built and gave the Riverhounds a jolt of energy.
New England got some chances in the second half but failed to take advantage. It took over 70 minutes for the Revs to register their first shot on net and when Altidore got a great opportunity right in front of goal, he skied his shot.
While Arena did trot out a rotated squad, they should have performed much better. Not getting a shot on goal in 45 minutes is horrible. Arena trotted out a squad that he believed could win and I would tend to agree with him.
Overall it was an underwhelming performance by New England. They gave the Riverhounds a chance to win and they didn’t let it go to waste. For a team that is at the top of the MLS table, Tuesday was a massive disappointment.
3 - Lucky Latif
Another major player who struggled against Pittsburgh was Blessing. He was lucky not to receive a sending off early in the game and overall just looked sloppy on the night.
Blessing received what might have been a soft yellow in the 19th minute but around five minutes later he had a very physical slide tackle on Joseph Farrell that easily could have seen him get his second yellow card but the referee only decided to give the Riverhounds a free kick.
While Blessing’s energy and chaotic play in the midfield can energize a team, he was undisciplined against Pittsburgh. He nearly put New England down a man and could have doomed the Revs to an even greater loss.
Blessing’s night came to an end in the 63rd minute. He completed 85 percent of his passes and recorded 44 touches.
Overall it was a rough night for the Revolution and they will turn their focus to league play when they take on Inter Miami down in Florida on Saturday.