Three minutes. That’s all that separated the New England Revolution from a chance at earning their second straight Desert Diamond Cup final berth on Wednesday.
But Alvaro Saborio and Khari Stephenson scored in the shadow of fulltime to pull the rug under the Revolution as Real Salt Lake claimed a 3-2 comeback victory on Wednesday.
Sebastian Velasquez opened the account in the 22nd minute, but New England responded in kind with goals from Andy Dorman and A.J. Soares in the 50th and 57th minutes, respectively. Saborio leveled it in the 88th minute before Stevenson sealed the win with a 90th minute blast.
Revolution head coach Jay Heaps tweaked his lineup from Saturday’s 2-1 win over New York. Stephen McCarthy partnered with Jose Goncalves in the center of the defense, while Scott Caldwell started alongside Kalifa Cisse. Lee Nguyen found himself in the withdrawn forward role behind Jerry Bengtson.
Desite the changes, the Revolution started the match the same way it did in its previous two matches: slow-footed.
Salt Lake found its rhythm early, with Velasquez and Devon Sandoval leading the way. And it wasn’t long before they reaped the rewards.
Midway through the first frame, Velasquez uncorked a shot that Bobby Shuttleworth initially stopped before it squirted away. Sandoval pounced on the rebound and easily tapped it through.
With heavy snow falling upon the Kino Veterans Memorial pitch, play was halted by the referee for about two minutes before the sides resumed play.
Velasquez made another bid in the 38th minute when he darted through the box before his shot went wide. Just as quickly, the Revolution nearly tied it when Kelyn Rowe found Bengtson out in front, but the striker’s header hovered just above the bar.
The Revolution offense finally awakened after the interval. Andrew Farrell played it ahead to Fagundez, who took it to the end line and slipped it far post, where Dorman arrived on time to tap it through in the 50th minute.
Seven minutes later, Soares scored from a Gabe Latigue free kick to give the Revolution the go-ahead.
However, Salt Lake, which inserted a number of first-choice subs after Soares’ goal, would have the final say.
In the 88th minute, Saborio slithered inside the area and cracked a shot that slipped under the bar to level the match late. Salt Lake, though, wasn’t satisfied with the scoreline.
Moments before fulltime, Ned Grabavoy went down the right before cutting it back to an unmarked Stevenson at the top of the box. Stephenson wasted no time and slammed it past Shuttleworth to lift his squad from the depths of defeat.
For Salt Lake, the win puts them in a favorable position to secure a spot in Saturday’s Desert Diamond Cup final against Seattle. Meanwhile, the Revolution will likely play New York in the consolation game, which will precede the Cup final.