Jay Heaps blended his New England Revolution lineup for Wednesday evening's US Open Cup fourth round clash and the end result was a 3-2 win in the sweltering Richmond heat, thanks in large part to the rookie tandem of Steve Neumann and Patrick Mullins, who each recorded a goal and an assist to thwart the hosting Kickers.
Neumann’s accuracy on a corner that set up Stephen McCarthy for the first goal of the game could give a hint as to what his role might entail as he continues to earn minutes in a congested New England lineup.
“When we drafted him that was one thing that was high on our list,” said coach Jay Heaps. “Sometimes when we play short we want the dynamic guys, but if Neumann is able to put the ball in the box like that, he’s going to be on the corners a lot more.”
After Richmond leveled the match in the 25th minute, the rookie duo hooked up ten minutes later, with Mullins (above, right) showing off the hold-up skills that Heaps has bragged about all season. He worked against two Kickers defenders in the box before finding Neumann coming across the middle for the go-ahead strike.
Mullins would again show great instinct and hustle on his goal, following through with a mad dash up the middle of the field to collect a Brad Knighton goal kick in Richmond’s box, beating defender and 'keeper alike to reach paydirt.
“He read that perfectly and never stopped running,” said Heaps. “The defender had a little bit of a miscue and didn’t realize where Mullins was.”
The Kickers would pull within one in the second half as the Revs were slowed a bit by the weather, which was in the mid-to-upper 90s for much of the match.
Yet the three first half goals, set up by the hungry rookies, were enough to push the Revs into the fifth round of the tournament
“Mullins and Neumann has really good games, a really good first half,” said Heaps. “The heat hit us, it took a toll out of us to get that first lead. You’ve got to have a guy like Neumann, who hasn’t played a full 90 minutes. It was good for him to go the distance.”