They’ll have to make sure they rest and regenerate, after going full throttle for the first hour of Saturday night’s 3-1 victory over the shorthanded New England Revolution – a scrappy, often physical match that saw Revs forward Krisztian Nemeth sent off just 10 minutes in for an elbow to the face of right back Graham Zusi.
One favorable factor going forward, center back and captain Matt Besler said, is that Sporting were able to build a two-goal lead before the hour mark and then maintain it.
"To be honest with you, I think we managed it well,” Besler said. “I honestly think things worked out almost perfectly tonight. They had an early red so we played the majority of the game up a man. I don’t know exactly when we went up 3-1 – in the 60th minute, about – so we had 30 minutes at the end where we were able to spread them out and keep the ball.
“I don’t think we exerted too much energy and I think that’s a good thing going into Wednesday."
Sporting also will have box-to-box midfield engine Roger Espinoza back for Wednesday’s home final against the Red Bulls, after he sat out Saturday’s league match because of caution accumulation.
Even with a lineup of first-choice players against the Revs, though, manager Peter Vermes was confident in his team’s ability to be prepared – physically and mentally – for their third Open Cup final in six years.
“The fact that we played here tonight on Saturday and are playing here on Wednesday, there is no doubt that we can manage that from a physical perspective,” Vermes said. “I actually like the fact that we are in the rhythm to play the next game. Tonight wasn’t easy. No matter how you look at it, the final was in the back of their minds and so I thought the guys did a good job of managing this game, getting the points and now understanding that our focus and our preparation has to be on Wednesday."
Saturday’s three-point result provides another boost going into Wednesday, Zusi said.
"It’s a win so it gives you confidence,” he told reporters. “It gets us into a little bit more of a rhythm here at home. I think that is really all you get. This is a bit different. [Wednesday] is a final. We know that the Red Bulls are going to come in here with that mentality. It’s all or nothing and we have to do the same thing."