Desert Diamond Cup
Revolution, RSL draw in 6-goal Desert Cup thriller
Both teams ended with 10 men; Davies with a brace
The Desert Diamond Cup’s first night headlining match between the New England Revolution and Real Salt Lake provided spectators with six goals and two red cards.
New England had the first goal, and the only one of the opening half, with a strike from draftee Michael Gamble. RSL’s Joao Plata nearly equalized for his side twice, but Salt Lake was kept off the scoreboard by a Revolution defense anchored by long time stalwart Jose Gonçalves.
RSL kept their initial line-up full of familiar faces like Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando, but New England brought in a whole new squad, including new signing Sambinha.
Changes like that can open up a match, but, oddly, what opened up things for Real Salt Lake was a red card.
New England’s Charlie Davies made it deep into RSL’s box. Defender Aaron Maund blocked the shot with his hand and was shown a red card. Davies easily buried the penalty kick to give his team a 2-0 lead.
The red card energized Salt Lake. Their pressure on New England saw its reward when they were given a penalty kick in minute 54’. Javier Morales converted and soon after created a chance for Jamison Olave, who scored in minute 68.
Tucsonan Justen Glad was put in the match after the red card and the decision paid off when he dished a ball to Olmes Garcia. The team had now gone from two goals and a man down to a lead.
The frustration among New England players showed in the final moments of the match when London Woodberry got two yellow cards in a matter of two minutes. He was shown off the field.
Following the already established pattern, New England’s Charlie Davies staged a bit of a comeback for his team after the ejection. His 84th minute goal meant the two teams ended level.
Both teams will see action on Saturday at Kino Sports Complex. Real Salt Lake will play against Columbus at 5 p.m. and New England will take on Sporting Kansas City at 7:30 p.m.
Where most coaches in preseason have been working in new players and trialists, RSL’s line-up was just about what you would see in a regular season match.
RSL isn’t only preparing for regular season, they have two Champions matches against Mexican club UANL Tigres on February 23 and March 2. Cassar has admits that it’s put the team on “fast forward” for preseason, but he’s still got time to work on things.
“I think the game showed some areas that we need to keep trying to improve on,” said coach Jeff Cassar. “That’s really what preseason is all about.”
He mentioned communication as something that needed to be worked on, but more important for him was the way the team came back after a deficit of both goals and players.
“What I really do like is the response we had was the urgency when we were down,” said Cassar. “Once that raised, we were a better team.”