So much for kicking off Desert Diamond Cup play with a bang.
In a match that featured mass substitutions and a handful of near misses, the New England Revolution (1-0-3) and Real Salt Lake (0-1-3) commenced the annual preseason tournament by playing to a 0-0 draw on Wednesday at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson Arizona.
Revolution first round pick Steve Neumann made his preseason debut, partnering with Lee Nguyen in the central midfield in the first half. Goalkeeper Brad Knighton got his second start of the preseason, while Jerry Bengtson got the nod up top before he was spelled by Belgian trialist Marvin Ogunjimi in the second stanza.
Like an anxious racehorse before a high-stakes derby, Neumann broke out of the gate and found an early opportunity when he slipped through the defense, but was forced to hurry his shot before it escaped over the bar in the fifth minute.
Salt Lake settled down shortly thereafter, and tilted the possession scale in their favor before Tony Beltran steered a Javier Morales cross on frame that forced a diving save from Knight in the 23rd minute.
Moments later, Olmes Garcia pierced the Revolution back line when he screeched past Stephen McCarthy down the flank and looked for an opening before Soares thwarted the opportunity with a timely tackle.
Salt Lake defender Aaron Maund was forced to do the same against Jerry Bengtson in the 27th when the Honduran striker sought to send one into Salt Lake’s goal.
At the half hour mark, the Revolution injected some youth into the lineup when U-18 prospect Zach Herivaux came on for veteran Andy Dorman at the holding midfielder's spot.
More changes came in the second half for the Revolution, which featured a revamped backline, Ogunjimi up top, and trialist Daigo Kobayashi as the central attacking midfielder.
Salt Lake made a slew of substitutions as well, with a number of first choice players like Alvaro Saborio and Kyle Beckerman coming on at the hour mark.
But it was the Revolution attack that found new life as a result of their fresh legs. Kobayashi sent a free kick from 25 yards that barely cleared the bar in the 60th minute, while Patrick Mullins uncorked a shot that swerved wide of frame five minutes later.
Knighton was called upon to make another daring save in the 76th minute when he dismantled a dangerous chance that saw John Stertzer go in alone on the Revolution keeper.
New England nearly found one in the closing moments when Kobayashi sent a free kick to Donnie Smith, whose header was denied by keeper Lalo Fernandez in the 89th minute.
Real Salt Lake returns to action on Saturday at 3:30pm ET when they face the Colorado Rapids at Kino Sports Complex. Following the match, the Revolution will face the Chicago Fire at 8:00pm ET.