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New England Revolution Defeat Hartford Athletic: 3 U.S. Open Cup Thoughts
The Revolution begin their Open Cup journey with a win over their neighbors
The New England Revolution began their U.S. Open Cup journey by defeating Hartford Athletic on Tuesday evening.
The USL Championship side couldn’t pull off the cupset at Gillette Stadium even with Bruce Arena heavily rotating his squad. The matchup was the first competitive meeting between the two sides.
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There were plenty of connections between the two teams as Arena’s former player on the United States Men’s National Team, Tab Ramos coached The Blue and Green. Ramos was also teammates with Revolution assistant coach Richie Williams on the USMNT and the MetroStars. Oh and of course, former Revolution II goalkeeper Joe Rice returned to Gillette Stadium (albeit from the bench).
Arena gave Djordje Petrovic a rest as Earl Edwards Jr. got his first start of the year. The head coach and sporting director also decided to play the kids as Jack Panayotou, Noel Buck, Damian Rivera, and Esmir Bajraktarevic got the start.
Arena also decided to give some playing time to individuals who have lacked it so far in 2023. Omar Gonzalez was captaining the squad with Christian Makoun, Joshua Bolma, and Justin Rennicks starting against Hartford.
But what do you need to know about tonight’s win over Hartford? Here are three thoughts.
1 - Hartford should be proud
This game could have been a disaster for Hartford going up against a more talented Revolution squad but they did themselves proud.
The Green and Blue were able to catch New England napping on multiple occasions. Ben Sweat and Joshua Bolma had some rough moments and didn’t play particularly well. Sweat was easily dispossessed on multiple occasions and a defensive error from Bolma nearly led to a goal for the Athletic.
Hartford rocked the post in the 7th minute and even after giving up a goal still fought valiantly. This is a game that the Revolution should have dominated from the jump and that simply wasn’t the case.
Eventually, Hartford found the back of the net thanks to an amazing display of skill from Prince Saydee who left Makoun in the dust. Saydee sent a ball across the box to Antoine Hoppenot who slotted it home.
Also want to shout out the Brass Bonanza who were rocking all night. Maybe the Fort should incorporate some drums into their in-game festivities.
2 - Disappointing Dylan Borrero
When you saw the starting XI’s, Dylan Borrero was someone who stood out. Going against the USL Championship side, it looked like he would eat on Tuesday evening.
But Borrero struggled to hit crosses and failed to connect with his teammates. Even when taking players on Hartford defenders made his life difficult. When given the opportunity to shoot, Borrero failed to even get shots on target or challenge Hartford goalkeeper Richard Sanchez.
In a game like this, Borrero should have been well clear of his opponents. It shows that he still has a long way to go as a player. Against Hartford, the Colombian completed less than 80 percent of his passes and was dispossessed three times.
Just look at the impact that Carles Gil was able to make in a short period of time. After coming on in the 74th minute, a beautiful cross in the box found Dave Romney’s head and gave New England the lead. You can count on Gil to make these key plays no matter the game and no matter the opponent.
While scoring goals occasionally is great, Borrero needs to be a much more consistent player. This is an issue that Arena has pointed to on multiple occasions so far in 2023.
Borrero has the skill and ability to be a top player but if he can’t maintain a high level of play game in and game out, he will never reach his potential.
3 - The kids came to play
Buck, Bajraktarevic, and Panayotou were the best players on the pitch Tuesday night. These players showed some skill and looked quite comfortable out on the pitch.
Buck once again showed why Matt Polster’s spot in the starting XI could be in jeopardy. He is a strong and commanding presence on the ball and also is able to defend well for an 18-year-old.
Panayotou also was able to flash some skill but still lacked the killer instinct that could come with age. The youngster had multiple chances to shoot but decided to lay the ball off for a teammate.
Bajraktarevic had a quality performance completing 94 percent of his passes and creating two chances. The youngster also had 49 touches and recorded six passes into the final third.
But now the Revs move on to the Fourth Round and move their focus to this Saturday’s match against FC Cincinnati in league play. A battle between the top teams in the Eastern Conference.