Tucson, Ariz. – Real Salt Lake captured three points in the first of its four 2015 Desert Diamond Cup matches, winning 1-0 over New England Revolution on the strength of a sixth-minute penalty kick from FW Devon Sandoval and riding 90 minutes of shutout play from GK Jeff Attinella – the lone man to see a full 90 minutes – in a match that saw RSL boss Jeff Cassar use a total of 21 players.
Visit RealSaltLake.com for a video archive of the match, as well as post-game sound from Sandoval, Attinella and Cassar.
RSL got out to an early lead on the goal from Sandoval, who continued a strong preseason showing with his second PK conversion of the spring, this time taking advantage of a spot kick created by another third-year player, MF John Stertzer, who was taken down just inside the box by Revolution DF Darrius Barnes. Sandoval drove his shot hard and to the right to beat NE GK Bobby Shuttleworth for the 1-0 lead, ultimately providing the game-winning score.
In the 22nd minute, Revolution MF Tim Mulgrew got into the box up the right side, but Attinella – affectionately known as the “water-gato” – made the near-post save then smothered the rebound to keep RSL in the lead. Later, Attinella made another save off a blistering shot from NE youngster Diego Fagundez, palming it over the crossbar for a corner kick.
The choppy match saw a total of 15 substitutions made 15 minutes into the second half, with Cassar inserting 10 new field players in the 59th minute. Veteran RSL men Beckerman, Morales, Gil, Beltran, Schuler, Olave and Saborio brought energy to the match, as did Demar Phillips, Olmes Garcia and Sebastian Jaime.
A noticeable uptick in chemistry saw several RSL chances to increase its lead thwarted by near-misses on goal or saves by Revolution GK Brad Knighton, who stoned Jaime, Gil, Beckerman, Phillips and Saborio in quick succession in the final 10 minutes.
RSL has two more matches in the group before the final round on Feb. 28, facing host FC Tucson (PDL) on Saturday at 6p MT, as well as Sporting Kansas City in a rematch of MLS Cup 2013 next Wednesday at 8p MT, in what will be RSL’s first match on the Kino Stadium field. Kick times for the fourth and final DDC match for RSL will be determined by order of finish.
Feb. 18 – Real Salt Lake 1 vs. New England Revolution 0 (Sandoval, 7’)
Feb. 21 – Real Salt Lake vs. FC Tucson – North Grandstand at Kino Sports Complex – 6:00 p.m.
Feb. 25 – Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City – North Stadium at Kino Sports Complex – 8:00 p.m.
Feb. 28 – Real Salt Lake vs. TBD
Real Salt Lake vs. New England Revolution
February 18, 2015 – North Grandstand at Kino Sports Complex (Tucson, Arizona)
Real Salt Lake 1, New England Revolution 0
Real Salt Lake: Jeff Attinella; Boyd Okwuonu (Tony Beltran 59), Aaron Maund (Jamison Olave 59), Elias Vasquez (Chris Schuler 59), Abdoulie Mansally (Demar Phillips 59); John Stertzer (Kyle Beckerman 59), Lucas Baldin (Luis Gil 59), Luke Mulholland (Javier Morales 59); Sebastian Saucedo (Sebastian Jaime 59), Devon Sandoval (Alvaro Saborio 59), Jordan Allen (Olmes Garcia 59).
RSL: 7’ - Devon Sandoval (PK)
NE: 16’ – Darrius Barnes (caution)
RSL: 50’ - Abdoulie Mansally (caution)
Weather: Clear and 66 degrees