Brad Knighton made a strong case for the starting goalkeeper’s job in a 0-0 draw between the New England Revolution and Real Salt Lake in Wednesday’s Desert Diamond Cup debut at the Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Ariz.
Knighton, who is battling incumbent Bobby Shuttleworth for the spot, went the full 90 and made a pair of game-saving stops in each half. Revolution first round pick Steve Neumann made his preseason debut, playing the first 45 minutes, while trialists Marvin Ogunjimi and Daigo Kobayashi both featured for New England in the second half.
Revolution coach Jay Heaps made a litany of changes at the half, and 21 different players saw the pitch between the first and final whistles.
Neumann put the Revolution on the attack early when he made a foray in the final third, and looked to beat Salt Lake keeper Jeff Attinella. But the threat dissipated when Neumann’s shot carried over the crossbar in the fifth minute.
Salt Lake found a chance near the 20th minute when Tony Beltran punched a Javier Morales corner kick on goal. The shot would’ve found the back of the if not for the spectacular save Knighton made to deny its entry.
Revolution U-18 midfielder Zach Hervaux came on for Andy Dorman at the half hour mark, and played at defensive midfielder for the duration of the half before he was replaced by Scott Caldwell.
At the half hour mark, Kobayashi fired a dangerous free kick from 25 yards that looked to sneak under the bar. But there was simply too much altitude under it, and the effort flew over frame.
Another Revolution first round pick – Patrick Mullins – took a crack at goal from distance minutes later, but his shot met the same fate as Kobayashi’s.
Salt Lake tested Knighton again in the 76th minute when John Stertzer barrelled toward the Revolution keeper with the defense in the distance. However, Knighton accepted the challenge and sealed the breach by making a quick save to frustrate Salt Lake.
New England found one more chance to grab the win in the 90th minute when Kobayashi launched another dangerous free kick that, this time, found Donnie Smith. The sophomore winger forced the header on frame, but it was collected by Lalo Fernandez.
The Revolution return to action at 8pm on Saturday when they face Chivas USA in their second round robin match of the Desert Diamond Cup.