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NYCFC 1, Revolution 0

Revolution shut out by New York City FC, knocked out of US Open Cup in extra time

Bruce Arena's team was knocked out of the US Open Cup in the Round of 16 on Wednesday.Mary Schwalm/Associated Press

The Revolution have met their match in New York City FC. For the second time in six months, they were eliminated from a competition by NYCFC, falling, 1-0, in extra time in the US Open Cup Wednesday night.

Santiago Rodriguez’ 94th-minute goal made the difference at Belson Stadium in Jamaica, N.Y., in a rematch of last year’s MLS Eastern Conference semifinal.

Rodriguez scored after Valentin Castellanos blocked an Andrew Farrell pass, then found Heber Araujo, who laid off to Rodriguez making a late run on the left. The Revolution had a chance to equalize but Justin Rennicks’s finish was disallowed for offside two minutes later, and Gustavo Bou’s header was saved by Luis Barraza in the 119th minute.

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“I thought our team played a real hard game and it was a very competitive game and after 90 minutes, their chances were as good as ours,” Revolution sporting director/head coach Bruce Arena said. “Obviously, we made a mistake turning the ball over that created their goal, but I thought the effort by our guys tonight was outstanding. It was good for some of our young players to get this kind of experience. We were in that game right until the end. So, I’m disappointed obviously in losing the game, but I thought it was a really good effort on the part of our team.”

NYCFC, which extended its unbeaten streak to 10 games (8-0-2) in all competitions, qualified for a quarterfinal match against the New York Red Bulls.

Midfielder Esmir Bajraktarevic, 17, and defender Ben Reveno, 22, made their first starts for the Revolution, who play host to the Philadelphia Union Saturday.

Both teams defended well, NYCFC recording its fourth successive shutout and extending its shutout streak to 435 consecutive minutes.

The Revolution stayed even in the first half thanks to Djordje Petrovic’s double save on Thiago Andrade, followed by a Matt Polster clearance off the line in the 13th minute.

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The Revolution seldom threatened during regulation, their best chances a counterattack that produced a Bajraktarevic header off an A.J. DeLaGarza-Rennicks combination in the 44th minute, and a Tico Rivera shot deflected barely wide by Barraza in the 50th. In the second half, Petrovic saved from Talles Magno and Castellanos.

Both teams made several substitutions midway through the second half – the Revolution adding Dylan Borrero and Bou in the 67th minute and Brandon Bye, DeJuan Jones, and Wilfrid Kaptoum in extra time.

Observations from Wednesday’s match:

▪ Bajraktarevic displayed composure and skillful touches filling Carles Gil’s playmaking No. 10 role. “I thought Rennicks played really well,” Arena said. “Esmir for his first time did a good job, Reveno was very good, and I was really pleased.”

▪ Arena indicated league play is a priority, resting several starters. Gil, Revolution leading scorer Adam Buksa, and regulars Sebastian Lletget and Tommy McNamara did not make the trip. Bye, Jones, Bou, and Farrell, probable starters against Philadelphia Saturday, entered in the second half. Also, Arena likely wanted to avoid using star players for 90-plus minutes on the artificial turf at Belson Stadium.

“The surface was very difficult, very hard field,” Arena said. “I hate to be critical of Open Cup venues, but if you have two Major League Soccer teams playing and one’s home field is available, you should use it. We shouldn’t be playing in these types of venues, not the MLS teams, but whatever. It was a really difficult game, and actually I thought difficult conditions probably favored us more than it did New York City.”

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⋅ Farrell is having one of his best seasons in central defense, but his turnover against Castellanos was costly. The Revolution nearly retreated in time to stop NYCFC’s goal after Castellanos took possession, but Rodriguez was able to get a shot off against two defenders. The best chance of stopping the shot would have been for Jones to stay on Rodriguez’s right foot, but it appeared difficult for Jones to stop after sprinting back to recover.

New York City's Santiago Rodriguez, seen here in a game against Los Angeles in February, scored the game-winner Wednesday night.KYUSUNG GONG/Associated Press

⋅ Rodriguez scored the opening goal in the Eastern Conference semifinal last November, NYCFC winning on penalty kicks following a 2-2 tie. The Revolution twice rallied from deficits in that game, and they created enough offense to nearly come back in Wednesday’s game.

⋅ NYCFC and the Revolution have emerged as two of the best teams in the league, neither having ideal playing surfaces at home (Yankee Stadium is retrofitted for soccer, Gillette Stadium has synthetic turf). The teams have faced each other only once on a regulation-size grass surface, the Revolution taking a 3-2 victory over NYCFC at Red Bull Arena last season. The Revolution have compiled a 9-7-5 record against NYCFC since 2015.

Polster retreated into the back line in the late going as the Revolution went to a 3-5-2 alignment in an attempt to rally. Polster’s one-on-one defending and confidence on the ball helped provide support for Bajraktarevic and helped neutralize NYCFC’s former Arsenal midfielder, Gedion Zelalem.

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Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at frankdellapa@gmail.com.