When I wrote the last match recap after we played the Red Bulls, I said that the Revs had guaranteed a spot in the Diamond Desert Cup championship game. Well, I was mistaken, and that actually wasn't true at the time. It is true now, however.
With the 2-1 win against Real Salt Lake tonight, the Revs officially advance to the championship match on Saturday night with a 3-0-0 Desert DiamondCup record. They will play either the LA Galaxy or the New York Red Bulls.
Tonight's goals were scored by wonderkid Diego Fagundez, who started and played the full 90 minutes, as well as Swedish trialist Bjorn Runstrom, who headed home a Fagundez shot that bounced off the crossbar.
The Revs started again in a 4-4-2 with Lechner, Soares, Lozano, and Alston holding down the back line, which resembled what is likely very close to our defensive starters come March 10th. The starting midfield group featured Ryan Guy, Mike Roach, Gabe Mercier, and Jeremiah White, which is a group that we already know is very far from being our starting midfield. And rounding out the lineup was Zach Schilawski and Fagundez up top and Bobby Shuttleworth was in net.
As far as this pre-season has gone so far, I would say that this match was far from the prettiest. The Revs were the aggressors right out of the gate with some quick play from Schilawski and Fagundez within the first minute to challenge the RSL keeper Kyle Reynish. Their persistence paid off in the 9th minute when Ryan Guy beat defender Terukazu Tanaka down the sideline and played the ball off to Schilawski who unselfishly set up Diego right in front of goal to net the Revs' first goal of the game.
It didn't take long for the gang in claret and cobalt to respond, however. In the 11th minute RSL homegrown player Nico Muniz blasted a shot from distance that got past Shuttleworth to level the scoreline at 1-1.
The Revs spent the rest of the half trying to answer Muniz's goal. They made a few decent opportunities for themselves including some good play on the right wing from Jeremiah White and a couple handled shots from Florian Lechner and Gabe Mericer. But overall, the midfield appeared to lack communication and the half ended with the same 1-1 scoreline.
The Revolution squad didn't change all that much in the second half. Ryan Kinne replaced Alston at RB, new trialist Austin Da Luz, the former DC United man, came in at LM which scooted Guy into the middle with Roach, and Bjorn Runstrom replaced Schilawski up top.
The first few minutes of this half saw chances for both sides as Muniz almost got himself a second goal in the 52nd minute and in the 55th minute Ryan Kinne sent a goal free kick in towards goal that was just a bit too far off from the runs of Ryan Guy and Mike Roach.
It was a minute later, though, that the Revs struck again. Diego Fagundez launched a great shot that blasted off the crossbar and bounced high off the ground. But Bjorn Runstrom managed to get some great height on his follow-up run to calmly head the rebound into the back of the net, and with that the Revs took the lead once again.
At the 65th minute Real Salt Lake made some wholesale changes, bringing in many of their starters include Kyle Beckerman and Alvaro Saborio, but the Revs were not so easily rattled. We made some changes ourselves through the second half which eventually saw the insertion of Tyler Polak, Alec Purdie, and Saer Sene into the lineup.
It was Purdie who particularly made a case for himself upon entering the game. In keeping with his good impressions thus far in pre-season camp, he got involved in the Revs attack very quickly, and notably picked out a great through ball to Runstrom in the 75th minute that just escaped the Swede before he was able to make anything of it. The second half also saw Ryan Kinne utilized on a hell of a lot of free kicks and set pieces, with which he performed very well. Although RB might not be the ideal place for Kinne to play, he certainly seemed to make the most of his minutes tonight.
With a few chances for both sides amounting to no further goals, the game ended in a 6th straight Revolution win this pre-season, and their third in the Desert Diamond Cup, which brings their point total up to 9. The Revs are now locked in to the Cup championship game on Saturday night during which we should expect to probably see a lineup pretty close to that which will take the field against San Jose come March 10th.
Perhaps the bigger storyline to look out for, however, is the fact that Heaps and his staff will need to make some key roster decisions very soon. The Revolution currently have 10 trialists in camp with them, and they may end up signing less than half of them to remain at the 28-man roster size. The team could of course be looking to sign more than expected, but such a move might also include cutting some currently rostered players by tomorrow, which I've understood to be the date by which teams must make roster cuts.
Regardless, another win in the books is even more confidence for the team to build upon as they head into the start of the season next weekend. Let's see if we can turn these wins into some silverware to bring home to Foxboro while we're at it.