By Jeff Lemieux
TUCSON, Ariz. Brad Evans converted a first-half penalty kick and Eddie Johnson added an insurance strike just before halftime as the New England Revolution suffered a 2-0 loss to Seattle Sounders FC in the first game of the Desert Diamond Cup on Wednesday night at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The game was a physical at times reckless affair, featuring a total of six yellow cards and two red cards as New Englands Sainey Nyassi and Seattles Marc Burch were both sent off in the 80th minute. Additionally, the Revolutions Clyde Simms and the Sounders Osvaldo Alonso were both subbed off before halftime when a scuffle ensued following a rough challenge on Chris Tierney.
Chad Barrett (illness), Ryan Guy (calf), Matt Reis (illness), Kelyn Rowe (knee) and Saer Sene (ACL surgery) were unavailable for the Revolution, which used largely different lineups for the first and second halves.
Jerry Bengtson made his first preseason appearance after returning from international duty, creating the games first chance in the fifth minute. The Hondurans flick sent Diego Fagundez into the right side of the box and the Revolution forward drilled a shot which Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning tipped over the crossbar.
Evans opened the scoring for Seattle in the 27th minute, converting a penalty kick after the Revolutions defensive wall was whistled for a handball while blocking a free kick. The effort was slotted low into the right corner as Evans sent New England goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth the wrong direction.
Johnson doubled the Sounders lead just before halftime, finishing off a strong individual move after receiving a long pass from Mauro Rosales down the right wing. After cutting inside onto his left foot, Johnson curled his shot inside the far post to give Seattle a 2-0 advantage at the break.
New England created the better of the chances throughout the second half and forced Seattle goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann into a pair of saves 10 minutes apart. Training camp invitee Marko Jesic directed a 20-yard shot on frame in the 68th minute, while Stephen McCarthy saw his header saved by Hahnemann in the 78th minute.
Nyassi and Burch were both ejected in the 80th minute when a fracas erupted near midfield, which began with a sliding challenge from Nyassi.
The Revolutions best chance to cut into the deficit arrived in the 83rd minute when the Sounders Lamar Neagle twice cleared the ball off the line. Following a corner kick, Neagle first directed Darrius Barnes header onto the crossbar before he was on hand to clear the follow-up effort away from danger.
The Revs will continue Desert Diamond Cup group play on Saturday, Feb. 16, when theyll take on the New York Red Bulls at 8 p.m. ET.