The stars of Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Sporting Kansas City were nowhere to be found for the New England Revolution on Tuesday, but that didn’t prevent the club’s offense from being just as potent. The Revs left most of their regular starters at home, instead dipping deep into their bench to come away with a 3-2 victory over D.C. United in a U.S. Open Cup play-in match at the Maryland Soccerplex.
Resting all but one starter from Saturday’s match, the Revs were led to victory by a lineup of mostly reserves. Kheli Dube, who had seen just 57 minutes with the first team this season heading into the match, opened the scoring in the 34th minute. The Zimbabwean striker added a second goal two minutes after halftime and rookie Alan Koger made it 3-0 in the 69th minute.
Things began to fall apart for the Revs as D.C. brought in experience off their bench, while the Revs dug even further into their own depth chart. D.C.’s Designated Player Branko Boskovic tallied twice in the final 20 minutes for the home side, but the Revs managed to hold on for the 3-2 win, advancing to a final play-in against Sporting Kansas City.
Dube double. Dube earned his first start and just his second appearance of the season on Tuesday and was a constant threat to D.C.’s back line. After failing to convert a few early opportunities, the fourth-year striker got on the scoreboard in the 34th minute, easily finishing off a square pass from Kenny Mansally after the Gambian was played behind the defense from Ousmane Dabo.
Dube would double his tally just after halftime, blasting a shot past Pat Onstad from about 18 yards after getting a pass from Koger. The goals were Dube’s first since a 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo on Oct. 10, 2010 and his first multi-goal performance since his hat trick in a 3-1 victory over Real Salt Lake on Aug. 23, 2009.
Dabo debuts. French midfielder Ousmane Dabo, 34, saw his first action for the Revs after missing the early part of the season with a right quadriceps strain. The veteran pulled the strings from his central midfield position, playing a key role on the Revs' first and final goals with his passing before being subbed out of the match in the 76th minute.
Koger shines as sub. Rookie striker Alan Koger saw his first-team debut, entering the match at halftime for Kenny Mansally. Koger made an immediate impact, setting up Dube’s goal less than two minutes after entering the match. Koger would find the back of the net himself in the 69th minute, getting the ball at the top of the box and seeing a pair of shots blocked before the second deflection allowed him to walk behind the defense and easily slot it past Onstad.
Fagundez makes history. Koger wasn’t the only rookie to make his debut, as 16-year-old forward and Leominster, Mass., native Diego Fagundez -- signed as a homegrown player in the offseason -- became the youngest player to appear for the first team of the Revolution when he entered in the 76th minute. Fagundez threatened to score deep into stoppage time, but saw his effort go just wide.
Depth on display. Along with Fagundez, Koger and Dabo, defender Otto Loewy and midfielder Michael Augustine saw their first action with the first team. Rookie midfielder Ryan Kinne, who had previously seen just one minute of first-team action, played the full 90 minutes. Stephen McCarthy was the only player who started on Saturday to maintain a spot in the starting XI on Tuesday.
Revs move on. With the victory, the Revolution will move on and travel to face Sporting Kansas City in early May (date and time to be announced on Wednesday). The winner will advance to the U.S. Open Cup, entering the competition in the third round. The Revs are looking to return to the tournament after missing out last year for the first time since 2002.
D.C. ousted. The loss for D.C. United means MLS’s most decorated club will not participate in the U.S. Open Cup for the first time since 2002.
Sean Donahue is the co-founder of New England Soccer Today (www.nesoccertoday.com), which covers professional soccer within New England.