TUCSON, Ariz. – Benny Feilhaber’s highlight-reel goal just 90 seconds after kickoff set the tempo for the New England Revolution’s enthralling 3-2 win over the LA Galaxy in the opening game of the Desert Diamond Cup on Wednesday night at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Twice the Revolution took first-half leads through Feilhaber’s stunning bicycle kick in the second minute and Colombian central defender John Lozano’s header in the 36th minute, only for the Galaxy to respond each time through Edson Buddle (31st minute) and Mike Magee (39th minute). But unsigned training camp participant Jeremiah White scored a third for the Revs in the 74th minute and New England maintained its lead to make a perfect start to the four-team tournament, which also features the New York Red Bulls and Real Salt Lake.
Wednesday night’s match was the Revolution’s first of the 2012 preseason against MLS opposition following a pair of victories over Boston College and a win over FC Tucson (PDL).
Projected backline starters Kevin Alston (calf) and A.J. Soares (knee) were held out for precautionary reasons, prompting Darrius Barnes and Stephen McCarthy to plug the gaps at right back and center back, respectively. McCarthy paired with Lozano in central defense, while Chris Tierney earned the start at left back.
Shalrie Joseph and Clyde Simms paired up in New England’s central midfield, flanked by Feilhaber on the left and Kelyn Rowe on the right. Training camp invitee Blake Brettschneider started at forward alongside newcomer Saër Sène.
Feilhaber opened the scoring in spectacular fashion before many fans had the chance to take their seats. After Rowe’s service from the right wing began the sequence, the ball eventually popped free near the penalty spot and Feilhaber didn’t hesitate to unleash an unstoppable bicycle kick into the left side of the net, leaving Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders with no chance.
Buoyed by the early goal, the Revs pushed for more and so nearly found a second in the 18th minute only to be denied by the woodwork. The hardworking Sène pestered Galaxy center back A.J. DeLaGarza into a turnover and burst into the right side of the box before unleashing a rising drive. Saunders was at full stretch to get his fingertips on the shot and managed to push the ball onto the crossbar and out for a corner kick.
It was a corner kick at the other end of the field in the 31st minute from which the Galaxy equalized for the first time. David Beckham’s initial service to the near post was cleared directly back to him and the Galaxy’s stand-in captain used his second chance to whip a cross to the back post. After eluding his marker, Buddle was on hand to bury a close-range header and level the score at 1-1.
That score didn’t hold for long, however, as Lozano restored the Revolution’s lead just five minutes later. Once again it was a corner kick which provided the danger, as Rowe’s curling service found Lozano at the penalty spot. The Colombian rose above his marker and directed a header inside the right post, off the fingertips of Saunders, in the 36th minute.
The frenetic back-and-forth pace continued and the teams were level again just three minutes later. Galaxy midfielder Mike Magee unleashed a 25-yard drive which took a wicked deflection off a New England defender, leaving Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis no chance and sending the teams into the halftime interval all even at 2-2.
There was only one goal to be found in the second half and it was White who decided the game with a smart finish in the 74th minute. Just moments after coming onto the field as a substitute, Alec Purdie delivered an angled pass to send White surging into the right side of the box. After taking a few touches, White calmly slotted a shot under Saunders as he charged off his line.
The Revs will continue group play in the Desert Diamond Cup on Saturday, Feb. 25, when they’ll take on the New York Red Bulls at 10 p.m. ET.
2012 FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup
New England Revolution vs. LA Galaxy
February 22, 2012 – Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium (Tucson, Ariz.)
New England Revolution 3, LA Galaxy 2
NE – Benny Feilhaber (unassisted) 2
LA – Edson Buddle (David Beckham) 31
NE – John Lozano (Kelyn Rowe) 36
LA – Mike Magee (unassisted) 39
NE – Jeremiah White (Alec Purdie) 74
New England Revolution: Matt Reis (Bobby Shuttleworth 46), Chris Tierney (Tyler Polak 76), John Lozano (Florian Lechner 46, Ryan Kinne 76), Stephen McCarthy (Gabe Mercier 76), Darrius Barnes, Benny Feilhaber (Diego Fagundez 74), Clyde Simms (Luisito Campisi 46, Fernando Cardenas 79), Shalrie Joseph ©, Kelyn Rowe (Alec Purdie 74), Blake Brettschneider (Jeremiah White 46, Michael Roach 79), Saër Sène (Bjorn Runstrom 46, Zack Schilawski 79)
Substitutes Not Used: Tim Murray, Ryan Guy, Tom Cruise, Rick Smith
LA Galaxy: Josh Saunders, Todd Dunivant, A.J. DeLaGarza, Tommy Meyer, Dan Keat, Mike Magee (Paolo Cardozo 46), David Beckham ©, Marcelo Sarvas, Pat Noonan (Hector Jimenez 57), Adam Cristman (Juninho 46), Edson Buddle (Jack McBean 79)
Substitutes Not Used: Nick Noble, JT Murray, Andrew Boyens, Bryan Gaul, Kenney Walker, Rafael Garcia
LA – Marcelo Sarvas (caution) 24