The Cosmos will play their third Round of 16 match in as many years on Wednesday night, facing the New England Revolution for the first time in their history. With the Cosmos knocking out NYCFC near the death in their last match and New England eliminating the Carolina RailHawks, both teams will look to win and earn a date in the quarterfinals against the winner of New York Red Bulls and the Philadelphia Union.
It, once again, comes down to how seriously an MLS side will take this match. Coming four days after a loss in DC and three days before a trip to Montreal, the Open Cup encounter will be the second of three matches in the space of a week for the Revolution.
Add their position in the table and New England will have some decisions to make. Four games short of the halfway mark (4-5-7), they sit two spots out of a playoff position. Their 19 points are a point short of the sixth spot, but their league-worst goal differential of -7 is also something to consider.
The Revs went to Carolina with a fairly mixed line-up. Bobby Shuttleworth received the bulk of starts this season, but Brad Knighton received got them for the RailHawks match and the two league matches that followed after head coach Jay Heaps announced open competition between the two keepers for the starting spot.
Center back Jose Goncalves was the only regular starter to feature in the back line, although the majority of the midfield stayed mostly intact.
While players like Kei Kamara and Lee Nguyen did not start the aforementioned match, they did enter as subs in the second half, signs that the Revs were willing to show some commitment to winning the match, which they did after 120 minutes.
In only their second match of the Cup and with a heavier schedule to balance, will the Cosmos see more starters? Or will they the Revs place the importance on the league?
We’ll find out Wednesday night at Belson Stadium.