By Jeff Lemieux
TUCSON, Ariz. The New England Revolution scored three unanswered second-half goals to erase a halftime deficit and claim a 3-1 win over the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Lee Nguyen from the penalty spot and Jerry Bengtson scored just six minutes apart early in the second half to put the Revolution in front, while training camp invitee Marko Jesic added an insurance strike in the late stages. Juninho had given the Red Bulls a halftime lead with an 11th-minute strike.
New England (1-1-0, 3 pts.) now sits in second place in the Desert Diamond Cup standings, behind Seattle Sounders FC (2-0-0, 6 pts.) but ahead of New York (0-1-1, 1 pt.) and Real Salt Lake (0-1-1, 1 pt.). The Revs would clinch a spot in the DDC championship match which will be televised live next Saturday on NBC Sports Network with a win over RSL in the final group match. A draw could also put the Revs through to the final provided the Red Bulls dont defeat the Sounders by three or more goals.
The Revs were without the suspended Sainey Nyassi ejected from the previous game against Seattle while Kevin Alston, Chad Barrett, Ryan Guy, Saer Sene and Chris Tierney were also unavailable because of either illness or injury.
Bengtson was active early and forced New York goalkeeper Luis Robles into a pair of saves in the sixth minute. Nguyen created the first chance after weaving inside from the right wing and dishing a clever pass, while Bengtson was alert to pounce on a loose ball 30 seconds later, but both shots were stopped by Robles.
Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis could do nothing to stop Juninhos 25-yard drive five minutes later, however, as the Red Bulls took an early lead. A deflected pass from the left wing found its way to the top of the box, where the Brazilian drilled a right-footed shot into the lower right corner.
Juninho went close to a second in the 26th minute after a well-worked Red Bulls move down the left, but his curling effort drifted inches wide of the far upper corner and New York carried a 1-0 lead into the break.
After beginning the second half with a largely unchanged side, the Revs turned the deficit into a lead within 15 minutes of the restart.
Nguyen first pulled New England level with a cheeky penalty kick in the 52nd minute. Referee Ricardo Salazar pointed to the spot when Donnie Smiths long-distance drive struck the hand of Jamison Olave inside the box and Nguyen stepped up to chip the spot-kick down the middle as Robles dove to his right.
It took the Revs just six more minutes to grab the lead as Bengtson scored the Revolutions first goal from the run of play in the 2013 preseason. Smith was again influential as he looped a left-footed cross into the box, while Bengtson ghosted in at the back post to guide a header across goal and into the far corner.
Jesic put the result beyond doubt in the 88th minute, finishing low past Ian Joyce after Juan Toja had played him into the right side of the box.
The Revs will close out Desert Diamond Cup group play on Wednesday, Feb. 20, when theyll take on Real Salt Lake at 7 p.m. ET.