FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Most of New England's regular starters will miss out on Wednesday night’s Lamar Hunt US Open Cup play-in game at Sporting Kansas City (8:30 pm ET, streamed live at SportingKC.com), but their absence does not diminish the Revolution's desire to advance to the Open Cup proper with a victory.
“Any time you step on the field, you want to win,” Revolution midfielder Pat Phelan told MLSsoccer.com. “We've had some good results in this tournament before and some bad results. Most of all, it's a chance for guys who don't get a lot of playing time to get out there, get a game and put a good performance in.”
Several fringe players — plus the recovering Didier Domi (quadriceps) — are expected to feature, while Diego Fagundez could also see some playing time after linking up with the squad in time for its departure from the Boston area Tuesday.
The match serves as a crucial opportunity for those players to take the field in a competitive match against another MLS side expected to field at least a few of its starters.
“It's important to get time on the field from a fitness standpoint and from a sharpness point of view as well,” Revolution coach Steve Nicol said. “It's a good opportunity. Hopefully, we'll do well.”
A second win in the competition — the Revs defeated D.C. United 3-2 in the second play-in round on April 26 — would satisfy that objective. A solid performance might even place some of those lineup hopefuls into the reckoning for first-team matches as the Revs battle injuries to several key players and the impending international call-ups for Benny Feilhaber (United States) and Shalrie Joseph (Grenada).
“We've got some injuries and we've got some guys who are going to be missing for this and that [reason],” Phelan said. “Guys are going to need to step in. People are going to need to be sharp.”
With Sporting poised to play their first home game of the season — Livestrong Park is set to open on June 9, so this match will take place at the Blue Valley District Activities Complex in Overland Park, Kan. — as they attempt to get a sputtering season back on track, the Revs must conjure up the quality necessary to overcome a determined showing from a motivated side.
“They want to have a win,” Nicol said. “They've had a tough start to the season. Obviously, playing seven million games away from home is hard. It gets a bit monotonous. They're at home, they'll be wanting to do well and they'll want to get a win.”