TUCSON, Ariz. – Relegated to the Desert Diamond Cup consolation match because of their late collapse against Real Salt Lake three days ago, the Revs were searching for a bit of redemption on Saturday night.
Determined to dig in and protect a lead – and thus prove Wednesday night’s disappointing finish was an aberration as opposed to a habit – the Revs set out to make their 2-0 halftime advantage over the New York Red Bulls stand up. On this occasion they accomplished their task, holding off an eager Red Bulls attack to claim a second preseason shutout.
“Those are demons you want to slay right away and there’s no better chance than getting an opportunity a couple days later,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “We were upset about [Wednesday night].”
“We had a bad ending against Real Salt Lake,” said Lee Nguyen, who scored the Revolution’s first goal against New York by drawing and then converting a penalty kick. “Jay talked to us and we told ourselves we weren’t going to let that happen again. That’s kind of the motto going into the season. It was our Achilles heel last year so we’re trying to stay on top of that and I think we did a great job closing it out tonight.”
The reason the Revs had a two-goal lead to protect was because of some successful high-pressure tactics, particularly early in the match. Heaps has urged his players throughout preseason to pressure opponents and force them to play quickly, an approach designed to cause turnovers.
Pressure led directly to both goals against New York and Nguyen was at the center of the action. The industrious midfielder picked the ball off Red Bulls center back Jamison Olave to draw the early penalty kick, while his pressure forced New York goalkeeper Luis Robles to hurriedly clear the ball straight to Jerry Bengtson prior to the Honduran’s insurance goal.
“That was kind of our game plan and it’s something we’ve been training all preseason so far, putting pressure and making them play out of the back,” said Nguyen. “It all started from the frontline. Jerry and Diego (Fagundez) did a great job and then everyone else stepped up.”