Thanks to a late penalty finished by Charlie Davies, the New England Revolution got their first win of the Desert Diamond Cup on Wednesday when they defeated the Seattle Sounders 2-1. The Revs battled throughout the game, overcoming an early Kenny Cooper tap-in and a red card to Tyler Rudy to secure three points.
Here are some thoughts on the match:
- Diego Fagundez has earned himself a starting spot. The 20-year-old has been nothing short of impressive since joining preseason camp after time with the Uruguay U-20s. Playing 90 minutes on Wednesday, Fagundez was his feisty self and often popped up unexpectedly. Perhaps most impressive, however, was his improved defensive presence as Fagundez showed an eagerness to win the ball whenever it was in was in Seattle's possession. Fagundez did miss a prime opportunity in the second half, but this can hopefully be chalked up to preseason rust more than anything else. At this point, Fagundez should be penciled in as a starter on the wing.
- Kelyn Rowe performed well, too. Rowe also had a solid shift on Wednesday, proving that the Revs have a wealth of midfield talent. Like Fagundez, Rowe was creative offensively and relentless defensively. Stationed as a central midfielder, Rowe looked comfortable and saw the ball often. With Jermaine Jones currently sidelined and Lee Nguyen only recently arriving in Tucson, there are midfield openings. When the team is at full strength, the competition between Rowe, Fagundez, and Teal Bunbury will be very interesting.
- Brad Knighton was huge. After a season of growth, it's hard to imagine that Bobby Shuttleworth isn't the de facto number one. That said, Knighton proved on Wednesday that he's a more than capable backup. After a mishap in the first half that led to a goal, Knighton made some gallant saves that kept the Revs in the game. Unfortunately for Knighton, there can only be one goalkeeper on the field at a time. Knighton should continue to push for that spot, however, and use US Open Cup games as a time to show his worth.
- Juan Agudelo and Charlie Davies are going to make a formidable 1-2 punch. Although they can play together, that doesn't appear to be the intent. Instead, it appears that Agudelo will get 60-80 minutes as a starter before Davies provides relief. If this turns out to be the case, it's a good strategy as Agudelo's physicality and talent will wear down opponents before Davies can challenge defenders with his speed. It's a bit unfair for Davies to lose his starting spot after last year's playoff heroics, but the New Hampshire native could ultimately benefit from this arrangement. Additionally, the Agudelo-Davies tandem might be one of the most daunting in MLS.