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Posted Feb 23, 2012, 10:46 am
The Desert Diamond Cup opened with an attack-minded contest that ended with the New England Revolution victorious over LA Galaxy 3-2. Then Real Salt Lake defeated the New York Red Bulls 1-0 on Wednesday night.
New England opened up the scoring in the first moments with a bicycle kick from Benny Feilhaber that sailed past LA goalkeeper Josh Saunders.
The Galaxy would answer later in the half when Edson Buddle, returning to the squad after a stint in Europe, delivered a David Beckham corner kick into New England's goal.
The lead would not hold long as two new players for New England linked up to get their second goal. Kelyn Rowe took a corner kick and sent it right to the head of John Lozano, who delivered it home.
It set an interesting record for Rowe: He has set up goals for his new team in every one of the Revolution's four preseason contests.
Los Angeles responded a moment later when Mike Magee — with a little help from a deflection off of the Revolution's Darius Barnes — scored and evened up the score.
Despite numerous tries at a goal from Buddle, the points remained even for both teams until the 74th minute, when Alec Purdie substituted for Rowe. The change quickly paid off as Purdie delivered the ball to the waiting feet of Jeremiah White who scored what turned out to be the winning goal for the Revs.
The game ended with the Revolution victorious and collecting three points in the Desert Diamond Cup standings.
Far from taking things lightly, the Galaxy played many of their starters in preparation for a season that will start a bit early for them with a CONCACAF Champions League against Toronto FC on March 7. Among those who stayed out for the entire match was David Beckham, his first full 90 in preseason.
"It's always good to get that in. I felt pretty good tonight, but we've got a lot of hard work to do in the next few weeks," he said in comments to the press after the game. "We want to treat these games seriously."
Beckham giggled a little bit when the chants of "DAVID! DAVID! DAVID!" could be heard outside the hall where he was being interviewed.
Sometimes, it can seem he's the Sagitarius A of Los Angeles, the supermassive object at the center of the Galaxy. He may be what gets the headlines, particularly from the non-soccer press, but Beckham's praise went to his teammate Edson Buddle.
"He gets himself in the way of defenders and works hard for the team, holds the ball well and gets in great positions," Beckham said of forward Buddle who scored the team's first goal.
"It's what you want from a forward. It's what he was doing before and what he's doing again," he said.
The Galaxy was near flawless last year, how does the team plan to keep it up?
"Last season was a great season for us, but we can't let complacency get into the club and come into the team," Beckham said. "Knowing Bruce [Arena, the Galaxy coach] and knowing his staff, they won't let any complacency come into this team."
The Revolution were trying out a variety of new players, but there was a familiar player in the midfield: Shalrie Joseph, starting his tenth season for the squad.
"It was good for us," Joseph said of the win, "we got the result we set out to get tonight."
Last season, the team counted on Joseph to play in a more offensive position. With a new coach and new players, Joseph was allowed to play as a defensive midfielder. It was a more natural position for him, but it will still take the team a bit of time to work players into the formation.
"It's been part of the rebuilding process. We're trying the system, trying to get guys involved," Joseph said. "We're still trying to work together, trying to build that chemisty."
So, how does the Grenadian-born player like Tucson?
"Anything to get out of Boston for the winter."
Real Salt Lake 1, Red Bulls 0
Real Salt Lake defeated the New York Red Bulls in the second game of the opening night of the Desert Diamond Cup on Wednesday night.
The Red Bulls are scheduled to take on Mexican club Pumas de UNAM in Phoenix Thursday night, so they put together a team that consisted of many reservists, try-outs and guest players. Only a few names, notably Mehdi Ballouchy and Corey Hertzog, were familiar to Major League Soccer fans.
RSL took the opportunity to also play many of their younger players, but brought on many of their more familiar places after the hour mark.
New York's Jeremy Vuolo kept RSL scoreless for most of the game, and may have given an answer for who the team's starting keeper will be. The team started three keepers at various times last year, none of whom are on the roster this season.
Vuolo's hopes to keep a clean sheet were dashed after RSL brought on their first teamers. It took a few minutes, but Chris Wingert floated a ball to the pate of Brazilian Paulo Jr. who sent it to the back of the net. It would be the only goal of the match.
'We played well'
"I'm quite pleased," said New York coach Hans Backe after the game, "It was a competitive good game for our young players and trialists."
"I think we played well in the first half, could have been one up, perhaps."
There are still questions at goalkeeper for the team. Backe plans to play Ryan Meara, who has spent his previous three seasons in the Premier Development League, when he brings out his regular starters against Pumas on Thursday.
"It's early to say," Backe said about which will be his number one keeper, "we'll see tomorrow."
"He's done well in our sessions," said Backe of Meara, "Even Jeremy [Vuolo] has done well. So let's see what Ryan is doing tomorrow. It's a little bit early to say."
Waiting for the call
Among the new players that Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis started was Leone Cruz. Cruz had been drafted by the Seattle Sounders in 2011, but the center back was traded to Salt Lake in January.
"I have the confidence that I can break through," Cruz said of his chances that he'll get into Kreis's first team.
"The coaches have been helping me and the players have been giving me pointers. Every day I just try and give my best for the team. When I get the call, I'll be ready for it."
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Both teams are scheduled for matches on Saturday night.
Real Salt Lake will be playing against LA Galaxy on Saturday at 6 p.m.
New York has a game against New England at 8 p.m. Saturday, but will first be facing Pumas de UNAM in Glendale Thursday night. Pumas are one of the more popular Mexican teams, but are languishing in 14th place with only one win in the clausura.
Both Tucson matchups will be at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium.