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RSL Gets Revenge as they Defeat the Revs 1-0 in DDC Opener

An early penalty kick goal from Devon Sandoval turned out to be the decider as the Revs lost 1-0 on Wednesday night.

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Revolution dropped their first game of the Desert Diamond Cup as they lost 1-0 to Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night.

The game was decided early as Devon Sandoval beat Bobby Shuttleworth from the penalty spot in the sixth minute. The opportunity came when referee Baldomero Toledo deemed that Darrius Barnes had committed a foul on John Stertzer. Shuttleworth correctly guessed which way Sandoval was going, but the shot was simply out of his reach.

Although they lost the match, there were plenty of positives from the Revolution's perspective. Here are a few thoughts from the game:

Donnie Smith looked sharp in the offensive third. As has been the trend this preseason, Smith was used as a defender, playing 45 minutes at left back. The third year pro was sharp on the attacking end with the Revs constantly creating chances on the left side of the field. Late in the first half, it looked as though Smith was going to earn an assist, however, Sean Okoli was ruled offside. In his first two years with the Revs, Smith only amassed 98 minutes over two appearances. Transitioning to the back line, where he can learn from Chris Tierney, might be what’s best for Smith.

Okoli has some skill. Okoli, who already has a goal this preseason, looked confident on Wednesday as he took on players when afforded space. Midway through the first half, the former Seattle Sounders player dribbled through traffic and nearly linked up with Diego Fagundez for a goal. Later, Okoli took down a Shuttleworth goal kick and quickly played the ball forward to Timi Mulgrew, who couldn’t convert. Okoli, who played as both a wide midfielder and as a lone striker, could be an important player in 2015.

Fagundez is fighting for a spot. Back from his time with the Uruguay U-20s, Fagundez was one of the few regulars to start against RSL. The 20-year-old was feisty throughout his shift as he took several corner kicks, provided pressure to opposing defenders, and had an excellent shot on goal. He didn’t get on the score sheet, but he did have some good moments, especially for a player who only had one prior training session with the team. It’s a big year for Fagundez, who is looking to rebound from a lackluster 2014.

Timi Mulgrew deserves a contract. In his first start with the Revolution, Mulgrew looked sharp. While the George Mason product had a couple of good looks on goal, it was his relentless effort that made him so impressive. Coach Jay Heaps is devout believer in team-wide defense, which could make Mulgrew a good pickup. The high-pressure defense exhibited by Mulgrew and other Revolution players forced many turnovers throughout the game.