Desert Diamond Cup: 'Crazy goals' make MLS opener a pleaser

2012-02-23T00:00:00Z 2012-02-23T14:12:35Z Desert Diamond Cup: 'Crazy goals' make MLS opener a pleaserDave Ord Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 23, 2012 12:00 am  • 

It was the start any soccer fan - and no doubt the Desert Diamond Cup promoters - had to love.

With David Beckham stepping onto the field as the Los Angeles Galaxy's captain, just about everybody else inside Kino Stadium was happy as well.

They were treated to four goals in the first half, including one in the third minute on a thrilling bicycle kick by New England's Benny Feilhaber and another in the 31st minute when Edson Buddle's head met a floating ball from Beckham to even the match at 1.

By the end of Wednesday's MLS spring training doubleheader, 5,547 fans had watched the Revolution defeat the Galaxy 3-2 before Real Salt Lake beat the New York Red Bulls 1-0.

Perhaps the night's most popular figure summed it up best.

"It was a friendly atmosphere. … I think everyone enjoyed themselves," Beckham said. "They saw five goals."

They also got to see one of the world's most popular players perform for the full 90 minutes. And perform he did, setting up Buddle's goal and placing countless through balls and free kicks in dangerous places.

"It's my first 90 minutes of the preseason," Beckham said in one of the hallways of Kino Stadium while children were chanting his name just outside. "That's always good to get that in. It felt pretty good, but we've got a lot of work to do over the next few weeks."

That period includes three more Desert Diamond Cup doubleheaders that will have to go far to equal the excitement of the first half in Wednesday's opener.

"I think it's been fantastic," said Chris Keeney, managing partner of FC Tucson, which is running the cup. "I think the town is getting its first real taste of quality MLS soccer. They saw an amazing (first) game with a 3-2 result with amazingly crazy goals. You can see these teams are putting themselves in a high level of performance already, and it didn't hurt that a Mr. David Beckham signed autographs for a good 20 minutes down by the railing."

Feilhaber's bicycle-kick goal started it all off with a bang. He floated up in the middle of the box and, while upside down, struck the ball perfectly to send it into the net and past bewildered keeper Josh Saunders.

"You don't get those very often," Feilhaber said. "It was a little bit of luck. It bounced up and came perfectly to me. I did as best I could to concentrate on keeping it on target."

The Galaxy answered with Buddle's header. Then defender John Lozano had a header of his own to put the Revs back on top. Mike Magee finished the scoring on a deflected goal to make it 2-2.

While the second half saw only Jeremiah White's goal in the 74th to decide the match, and the second game was limited to Paulo Junior's late goal, the night clearly pleased most of those concerned.

"We weren't sure whether we were going to see David Beckham, but we knew it would still be a fun experience," said 17-year-old fan Nicole Cerrone.

If you go

• What: Desert Diamond Cup

• Where: Kino Stadium

• Who: L.A. Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake, 6 p.m. Saturday; New England Revolution vs. New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m. Saturday

• Upcoming: Doubleheaders Wednesday and March 3

• Tickets: www.fctucson.com

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