Revolution kicked out by Rhinos
The New England Revolution were dumped out of the U.S. Open Cup by A-League side Rochester Raging Rhinos, as the teams battled to a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes at Lusitano Stadium in Ludlow, Mass. The Rhinos emerged victorious 3-1 on penalties, thanks to the heroics of 'keeper Theo Zagar, who saved penalties from Jay Heaps and Clint Dempsey to seal the victory.
Danger signs were apparent early for the Revolution. A mistimed tackle by Avery John, seemingly outside the area, caused referee Ricardo Salazar to point to the spot. Rhinos midfielder Shaun Tsakiris took the penalty, but his poorly taken effort was saved by Revolution 'keeper Matt Reis.
The A-League side paid for their missed chance in the seventh minute. Richie Baker hit a curling ball, which found Pat Noonan on the near post run. The MLS All-Star made no mistake with his header, powering the header off Zagar to put the Revolution ahead.
The Rhinos responded well to the adversity, controlling play for periods throughout the match. Former MLS No. 1 draft pick Chris Carrieri and midfielder Lenin Steenkamp provided most of the inspiration for the A-League side. The Revolution failed to come to grips with Steenkamp's surging runs, as the ageless 35-year-old bossed the midfield.
For all of their possession, the Rhinos failed to generate many genuine efforts on Reis's goal. A Corey Woolfolk bicycle kick just missed the right post on 18 minutes, but a later Woolfolk effort, from a Steenkamp feed, drew a fine save from Reis in the 29th minute.
The Revolution looked to go 2-0 ahead, but a Taylor Twellman effort in the 25th minute, with the goal gaping wide, was beautifully saved by Zagar.
Felix Brillant drew another fine save out of the Canadian 'keeper in the 35th minute. José Cancela, with a free kick 30 yards from goal, played the ball quickly to the feet of Felix Brillant. Brillant curled a 25-yard strike to the near post only to be denied by the diving Zagar.
Revolution coach Steve Nicol sensed danger at halftime. At the interval, Nicol sent on Jay Heaps and Shalrie Joseph to tighten the Revolution defensive efforts in place of Daouda Kante and Baker. Rhinos coach Pat Ercoli countered by sending on a fresh pair of wingers in Ian Pilarski and Noah Delgado.
Delgado was influential in helping the Rhinos level the score in deserved fashion. He beat Revolution right back Luke Vercollone, then found Doug Miller. The former A-League MVP crossed to Kirk Wilson, who made no mistake in smashing home to the top left corner.
The Rhinos found strength after the equalizer, possessing the ball and putting guys forward in search of a winner. Nicol sent on Dempsey for Cancela just after the goal in an attempt to rejuvenate the stuttering Revolution attack.
Miller forced another save from Reis in the 63rd minute, as his curling shot forced the Revolution 'keeper into a smart save down to his right.
The Rhinos appeared to take the lead in the 67th minute. Halftime-sub Pilarski hit a fantastic ball to the far post. Carrieri made no mistake from six yards, but the far side assistant had already flagged for offside.
Influential midfielder Steenkamp just missed the far post with a towering header in the 73rd minute, benefiting from a well-delivered kick from Carrieri.
Just a minute later, the Revolution almost broke the deadlock. Taylor Twellman had a chance against the Rochester defense. Bearing in towards Zagar on a one-vs.-one situation, central defender David Wright made a desperate tackle to thwart the danger.
Only Carrieri managed trouble on either keepers in the last quarter of an hour. A surging run by Wilson freed space for Carrieri. Wilson's ball into Carrieri was a good one, and Carrieri's shot drew a fine low save from Reis.
The end of regulation saw the withdrawal of Steenkamp in favor of Pato Aguilera.
In the first interval, the Revolution gained in strength, as the effect of two weekend matches took a toll on Rochester's ambitions. Dempsey used his pace and guile to wriggle free of the Rochester defense. Dempsey found Noonan unmarked at the top of the box, but Noonan blazed his effort well high of the target.
The Rhinos were reduced to 10 men in the 102nd minute as Bill Sedgewick was sent off for his second caution, with his tackle on Luke Vercollone leaving Salazar with no choice but to send off the veteran Rhino.
The Revolution lost Brian Kamler during halftime of extra time, as he tweaked a recurring hamstring injury.
Both teams tired during the second period of extra time, with neither side able to generate any viable scoring opportunities.
It was left to the lottery of penalty kicks, and it was Zagar who proved the difference in the match. The Canadian 'B' international dived to deny Heaps and Dempsey, sandwiched between a Twellman penalty conversion. Doug Miller missed the first penalty, but Craig Demmin, Aguilera and Mendes converted to complete another giant killing for the Rhinos.
Kyle McCarthy is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.