January 31, 2017
KEI COMES THROUGH
Revolution rally for draw with Minnesota United in preseason opener
CASA GRANDE, Ariz. -- Kei Kamara’s 78th-minute goal gave the New England Revolution a 1-1 draw with Minnesota United FC in the team’s preseason opener Tuesday.
Slovenian defender Antonio Mlinar Delamea and draft picks Brian Wright, Napo Matsoso and Joshua Smith made their Revolution debuts.
The Revolution earned a penalty in the 12th minute as Wright was fouled, Teal Bunbury’s penalty kick attempt knocked over the crossbar. Minnesota took the lead on former U.S. U-23 striker Eugene Starikov’s 39th-minute goal after a scramble near the goal area that included a Matt Turner diving save.
Cody Cropper replaced Turner as both teams made extensive changes after halftime, Cropper making saves in the 57th and 64th minutes. Kamara equalized with a header off a Donnie Smith cross, midfielder Zach Herivaux starting the sequence by releasing Smith on the left wing.
“You’re playing outside competition for the first time, so that’s good,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. “We’ve been pushing each other, against each other, so it’s good to get on the field, play against another team. We split our lineup, blended it pretty well with a first group in the first 45 minutes, and a completely (different) group in the second half. So it was good to get guys 45 minutes. We’re still in that phase of building fitness, getting game fitness, but building in certain things along the way about our shape defensively and how quick and how fast we have to play.
“The first phase right now is making sure defensively we’re sound, limiting chances and making sure that we pressure when we can pressure, but when we can’t, we’re in a good sound shape defensively. But also building in our speed of play – how quickly can we play, how fast can we go, how fluid can we be, and can we get forward when we have the ball and drive against teams.”