Rookie midfielder Kelyn Rowe scored a pair of late goals and veteran goalkeeper Matt Reis kept a clean sheet in his first 90-minute performance of the preseason as the New England Revolution claimed a 2-0 win over the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Rowe broke a scoreless deadlock with an opportunistic finish in the 77th minute before capping the night with a stunning strike in the 84th minute, bringing his tally to four goals and four assists in five preseason games. The U.S. Under-23 midfielder has at least one goal or one assist in each of the Revolution’s preseason matches.
It was the Revolution’s fifth consecutive win and the club’s second straight in the Desert Diamond Cup. The Revs now have the maximum six points from two matches in the tournament, putting them on top of the pack ahead of the LA Galaxy (1-1-0, 3 pts.), Real Salt Lake (1-1-0, 3 pts.) and Red Bulls (0-2-0, 0 pts.).
The Revolution began the match with the same backline and midfield which started Wednesday’s 3-2 win over the Galaxy as both Kevin Alston (calf) and A.J. Soares (knee) were once again held out for precautionary reasons. Head coach Jay Heaps did opt for a different forward pairing, however, handing starts to Colombian newcomer Fernando Cardenas and unsigned training camp participant Bjorn Runstrom.
A quiet first half saw little in the way of quality chances for either side as the teams spent much of the opening 45 minutes toiling in midfield. New York’s best effort arrived in the 20th minute when Brandon Barklage sent a free header wide of the right post from Jose Angulo’s corner kick, while the energetic Cardenas had the Revolution’s most serious threat with a 20-yard drive which sailed over the crossbar in the 28th minute.
New England made three changes to start the second half, including switching both forwards with Saer Sène and Rick Smith replacing Cardenas and Runstrom. Unsigned training camp participant Florian Lechner replaced John Lozano, slotting into a right back role and pushing Darrius Barnes into central defense.
Rowe forced Red Bulls goalkeeper Jeremy Vuolo into his first save in the 60th minute, latching onto Chris Tierney’s long ball into the box before sending a hurried effort straight at the New York netminder. Vuolo was saved by the woodwork in the 75th minute when Sène’s 25-yard drive beat the ‘keeper but kicked off the left post.
The Revolution’s sustained pressure finally paid off with the game’s opening goal in the 77th minute. Benny Feilhaber slipped Sène into the box and the French striker saw the ball tackled away before he could unleash a shot. The ball fell kindly for Rowe, however, who slipped a close-range shot into the vacant net to hand the Revs a 1-0 lead.
Feilhaber and Sène linked up again in the 81st minute and this time Sène got his shot away only to see the effort kicked away by Vuolo, but the New York goalkeeper could do nothing to stop Rowe’s spectacular drive three minutes later. Sène was the setup man as he laid the ball down the right wing and into the path of Rowe, who cut inside and sent a curling left-footed shot into the far upper corner to put the result beyond doubt.
The Revs will close out group play in the Desert Diamond Cup on Wednesday, Feb. 29, when they’ll take on Real Salt Lake at 8 p.m. ET.