TUCSON, Ariz. – “Anything can happen in preseason.”
Those words of wisdom from New England Revolution goalkeeper Brad Knighton were on full display Wednesday night, when the Revs earned a dramatic 2-1 win over Seattle Sounders FC despite playing the final 33 minutes a man down after Tyler Rudy was harshly issued a straight red card.
New England trailed almost from the outset after Kenny Cooper struck early, but an equalizer (via own goal) shortly after the halftime break set the stage for Charlie Davies to nab a late winner, converting from the penalty spot with the last kick of the game to give the 10-man Revs a confidence-boosting win.
“That’s a big step for us this preseason,” said Knighton, who made his first start of the Desert Diamond Cup. “We’ve struggled to put the ball in the back of the net so far in this tournament. We were fortunate enough to come from behind, get two goals and get our first win of the tournament.”
If preseason is about preparation, New England got a different kind of lesson on Wednesday night. Entering the final half-hour down a man and level at 1-1 put the Revs in a situation they hadn’t faced yet this preseason, but will likely encounter at some point during the regular season.
Knighton was thrilled with how the Revs came through the adversity.
“I felt the guys dug deep and we edged out a result,” he said. “We had a lot of heart and determination from a lot of guys that have been struggling to get minutes. It’s a good showing for these guys that when push comes to shove, they can roll their sleeves up and we can grind out a result.”
Perhaps no one dug deeper than Knighton, who was called into action several times after the Revs were reduced to 10 men and came up with a handful of stellar saves.
“You don’t want too much action,” Knighton said with a laugh. “I felt like we were under the weather there for 30 or 45 minutes, but it’s always nice to be able to make a couple saves and have your hand in the win. It was a collective team effort and I was just trying to keep us in the game.”
The Revs will now close out the Desert Diamond Cup – and their preseason schedule – on Saturday night, marking their final tune-up before the March 8 season opener at CenturyLink Field.
And who will the Revs face in that opener just 11 days from now? Seattle Sounders FC.
“It’s really getting our sharpness back and getting ready for that first game, which is only a week-and-a-half away,” said Kelyn Rowe. “I think we have the fitness. There’s a little bit of sharpness that we can catch up on in that week-and-a-half, but other than that, I think we’re ready.”