Real Salt Lake took another great step forward on Wednesday in its preparations for the 2016 season, drawing 3-3 with the New England Revolution in the first of two matches in the FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup. After going down 2-0 and with Aaron Maund being sent off just minutes into the second half, it was a difficult test for RSL and the team treated it like a cold splash of water, driving to a 3-2 lead before eventually allowing an equalizer to the Revs.
While the 3-3 draw tells one story, the team was proud of its fight for coming back and showing the character to make a game of it when adversity was thrown their way.
“I thought it was great. Nobody put their head down. To be able to respond the way we did was promising for the future of our team this year,” RSL captain Kyle Beckerman said. “It’s a good start, now it’s about getting fresh and ready for next week.”
There were certainly flaws in RSL’s game on Wednesday, but running the starting group for 90 minutes for the first time and having the resolve to earn a result were some very positive takeaways. Still, Head Coach Jeff Cassar will be the first to admit that the play and result need to get better before the Champions League Quarterfinal matchup with Tigres gets under way with the first leg in Monterrey, Mexico, next week.
“The game showed some areas that we still need to keep trying to improve on. That’s really what preseason is all about is these games show you what you need to work on,” Cassar said. “I thought we did a lot of good things, but there were a couple areas in the backline specifically that we need to shore up a little bit. I think it’s going to come with more communication.”
Added goalkeeper Nick Rimando, “It’s still a work in progress, for sure. We’re still trying to figure out how to play back there and we’ve got to click soon because we have a very important game coming up.”
Competition is still very much alive for positions and roster spots as RSL enters the final days of preseason, concluding on Saturday with the final preseason match against Columbus Crew SC. However, with the series against Tigres starting with the first leg on Wednesday, the starting group for RSL will likely be resting during that Desert Diamond Cup match.
Kickoff in Saturday’s preseason finale is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. MT with a live stream on RSL.com.