Desert Diamond Cup: Salt Lake wins, preps for opener in rain, cold

2013-02-21T00:00:00Z Desert Diamond Cup: Salt Lake wins, preps for opener in rain, coldDave Ord Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 21, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Spring training is about preparing the players for the regular season.

A rainy, cold night with intermittent snow at Kino Stadium on Wednesday night gave the four Desert Diamond Cup teams a very wet dry run of what their Major League Soccer openers could be like in a couple of weeks.

In Wednesday's opener, Real Salt Lake scored twice in the final three minutes to beat the New England Revolution 3-2. Seattle Sounders FC defeated the New York Red Bulls 2-0 in the second match. The two results meant Real Salt Lake will face Seattle in Saturday's final at 6 p.m. New England and New York will play in the 4 p.m. third-place match at Kino Stadium.

With rain and snow alternately falling during the opener, Real Salt Lake got on the board first when new signee Devon Sandoval scored in the 22nd minute.

"Sebastian (Velasquez) had the shot and, when it's wet like that, keepers drop it," Sandoval said. "I was just anticipating he wasn't going to be able to hang on to it. I caught the defender sleeping, and the ball set there for an easy tap in."

Five minutes later, the match was halted for a couple of minutes, with both teams seeking shelter under tents that were covering the team benches. Meanwhile, a handful of hearty souls stuck it out in their seats and a few hundred more sought cover on the concourse.

"It was difficult conditions, but I'll take that over 100-degree heat," Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis said. "I think the really difficult part is to try to put a whole new team on when it's that cold. I felt a little bit sorry for our guys trying to get going. But thankfully toward the end, they did."

After the break, New England turned a one-goal deficit into a 2-1 lead in the first 12 minutes. Andy Dorman and A.J. Soares scored, putting the momentum clearly in the Revolution's favor until the final minutes.

In the 88th minute, Alvaro Saborio scored with a hard shot from the top of the box to even it at 2.

Two minutes later, Khari Stephenson netted the winner almost the same way, just seconds before the final whistle, to reward those who stuck it out at Kino Stadium.

"The conditions are what they are; it's a part of the game," Stephenson said. "Sometimes you play in snow, sometimes you play in rain, sometimes you play in both."

In the nightcap, Seattle's Alex Caskey scored in the 37th minute, and Mario Martinez's rocket doubled the lead in the 78th as snow started to come down harder.

"I think it got really slick toward the very end," Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid said.

"You play in those kind of conditions all the time in Europe. It's a matter of getting the right footwear and being smart about what you do and the runs that you make. At the end of the game, I thought we were smart and just held the ball. But it was definitely getting slick and slippery there at the end."

Former Tucson Soccer Academy and Sierra Vista Buena High School goalkeeper Luis Robles was in the New York goal the entire 90 minutes.

Saturday

• Third-place match: New England Revolution vs. New York Red Bulls, 4 p.m., no TV

• Championship: Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders FC, 6 p.m., live on NBC Sports Network

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