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MLS Pre-Season Recap: Sounders win Desert Diamond Cup, Fire grab Carolina Challenge Cup

The Seattle Sounders are starting to make a habit of beating Real Salt Lake, even without their first-choice starters.

Just days after being RSL in group play in a clash of first-team lineups, the Sounders trotted out a second-team lineup on Saturday night and still managed to beat out a RSL side playing mostly starters. Alex Caskey’s winner and Marcus Hahnemann’s work in goal helped Seattle post a 1-0 victory in the Desert Diamond Cup Final.

Caskey provided the game’s best moment of quality, beating RSL defender Chris Schuler before finishing past Nick Rimando from close range in the 51st minute for the game’s only goal.

Hahnemann made the most of his start, making several top-shelf saves to preserve the shutout, including a reaction stop on an Alvaro Saborio header.

Seattle rested its starters after Friday’s scoreless draw vs. Veracruz, giving the reserves a chance for a good run before the start of the MLS season. RSL used the final to play a mostly first-choice lineup, including the forward tandem of Alvaro Saborio and Robbie Findley.

The Sounders begin their MLS campaign at home on Saturday against the Montreal Impact, while Real Salt Lake kicks off on March 3rd at San Jose.

Here is a rundown of some more of Saturday’s MLS pre-season action:


The Chicago Fire ended a successful pre-season on a strong note Saturday, riding a Maicon goal to a 1-1 draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps. The result helped the Fire win the Carolina Challenge Cup.

Chris Rolfe provided the set-up to help Maicon open the scoring on Saturday night, giving the Fire a lead they didn’t hold for long. Whitecaps forward Darren Mattocks tied things up soon after by converting a penalty kick drawn by Kenny Miller, but the draw was enough to help Chicago secure the pre-season tournament title.

The Fire head into the regular season off a one-loss pre-season, with their revamped midfield looking sharp.

The Whitecaps showed good signs in pre-season as well, with rookie Kekuta Manneh impressing and fellow rookie Erik Hurtado also showing well.

Chicago opens the season against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday, while the Whitecaps open at home against Toronto FC.


It may just be pre-season, but the New England Revolution head into the season having to feel confident about their chances against the New York Red Bulls.

The Revs posted their second two-goal win over the Red Bulls on Saturday, posting a 2-0 victory on the strength of goals by Lee Nguyen and Jerry Bengtson.

Both teams fielded mixed lineups consisting of starters and reserve players. Thierry Henry, Juninho and Fabian Espindola led the Red Bulls attack, while Bengtson, Nguyen and Juan Toja spear-headed a New England lineup that came away with shutout win despite the Red Bulls creating more scoring chances.


Goals from Dane Kelly and Austin Savage helped the Charleston Battery upset the Houston Dynamo, 2-1, in Carolina Challenge Cup action on Saturday.

Houston fielded a first-choice side, but couldn’t topple the USL-PRO side playing at home, though an early Giles Barnes goal got the Dynamo off to a promising start.

Kelly equalized just two minutes later and the match remained tied until well into the second half, when second-half substitute Austin Savage finished off a corner kick in the 75th minute to secure the victory for the Battery.

The Dynamo play host to D.C. United on Saturday in their season opener.


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