HARRISBURG, Pa. – In the past few seasons, the New England Revolution have preferred to focus on MLS challenges at the expense of auxiliary competitions like the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
Those days are over.
For a club in the midst of an expansive overhaul, every match – even a third-round Open Cup date at USL PRO side Harrisburg City Islanders on Tuesday night (7 pm ET) – offers another opportunity to continue the transition.
“With the way things have changed within the organization, we are trying to develop a winning mentality within the group,” Revolution defender Darrius Barnes (above) told MLSsoccer.com after the Revs went through their paces on Monday afternoon. “We've been up and down this season as a team. A lot of guys who haven't been getting a lot of first-team minutes will get a chance to play tomorrow.
“We have to go out there, leave it on the field and try to create that winning culture that we're trying to create throughout the whole organization,” he added. “It's important for guys to perform.”
Four starters (Blake Brettschneider, Benny Feilhaber, Steven McCarthy and Lee Nguyen) and all three substitutes from Saturday's 3-2 defeat at D.C. United were included in the travel party from Washington on Monday, but the bulk of the starting lineup will be comprised of players pushing to secure more MLS minutes.
“It's a chance for a lot of guys to show what they can do, and make their argument to be on the field,” goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth said.
It is, however, by no means a foregone conclusion that the Revs will move onwards to visit the winner of the New York-Charleston tie next Tuesday. Harrisburg won the last Open Cup meeting between the two teams in extra time back in 2009 and features several former MLS players in its ranks.
Throw in the choppy playing surface and the steamy conditions expected in central Pennsylvania, and this third-round tie represents a potentially difficult task.
“It's definitely a challenge when you're playing a team that is seen as below you, but we know it's not going to be an easy game,” Barnes said. “They're going come out here, challenge and put pressure on us."
Head coach Jay Heaps, meanwhile, will not attend the game on Tueday night while he attends to family matters after his mother passed away last week. He’ll return to the team when the full squad returns to training on Thursday ahead of Saturday’s game against Chicago. Assistant coach Jay Miller will coach Tuesday's Open Cup match.
WATCH: Revs preview USOC matchup in Harrisburg