There’s something unexplainable about the US Open Cup that brings out the best in New England Revolution midfielder Kelyn Rowe.
Rowe, who already had two goals and an assist in the tournament, powered the Revolution with two more goals in the first half Wednesday night as New England beat the New York Red Bulls, 4-2, at Harvard in the fourth round of the 100th US Open Cup.
With the win, the Revolution will play D.C. United in the quarterfinals June 26, at 7 p.m. at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
“It just seems to be right,” Rowe said. “The guys gave me space. It’s a lot about confidence. I’ve grown into that aspect this year, and it’s something that’s bringing my game out fully.”
Rowe’s first goal came in the four-minute mark, and after the Red Bulls’ Fabian Espindola tied the contest, Rowe scored again at the 37th minute to lift the Revolution to a lead they never relinquished.
“When [Rowe] shoots it on goal, it’s usually going in,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. “He has one of the best shots I’ve seen, right or left foot. He’s really dynamic in his attack.”
Revolution forward Dimitry Imbongo provided what appeared to be an insurance goal in the 51st minute, after Darrius Barnes delivered a smooth pass over the top of the box and Imbongo drove it past goaltender Ryan Meara.
But 10 minutes later, Red Bulls midfielder Eric Alexander delivered a textbook cross and Jonny Steele beat Matt Reis, who was falling away from the shot, to pull New York within one.
The Revolution have gone 395 minutes in MLS action without surrendering goal — an air-tight stretch that has powered a five-game unbeaten streak (3-0-2) in the regular season.
It was without coincidence, as the Revolution turned their attention away from the MLS regular-season schedule and to the US Open Cup, that their defense followed.
Although they surrendered two goals, Reis and the Revolution fended off a second-half comeback attempt.
In the 87th minute, Reis and the Revolution felt the pressure alleviate when teammate Chris Tierney delivered the dagger. Ryan Guy sent a screaming cross across the box and Tierney finished, giving the Revolution their two-goal edge.
“You look for moments like that,” Heaps said. “It was a smart play from Ryan Guy.”
The quicker the Revolution (22 shots) tallied scoring chances in the opening minutes, the more the Red Bulls tempers flared. New York received seven yellow cards in the contest.
At the nine-minute mark, New York midfielder Lloyd Sam kicked Chad Barrett in the midsection, inciting a pushing scuffle that ended with New York’s Brandon Barklage receiving a yellow card. Barklage received his second yellow card in extra time, which resulted in an automatic red card.
The Revolution (5-4-5) resume MLS play Saturday in Vancouver.