HARRISON, N.J. – Forward Juan Agudelo scored his first career MLS goal to give the New York Red Bulls a 1-0 win over the visiting Seattle Sounders at Red Bull Arena on Saturday night.
The decisive goal came in the 70th minute as Agudelo ran onto a long ball from midfielder Teemu Tainio. The 18-year-old, who was called up for upcoming US national team matches against Argentina and Paraguay, shrugged off Seattle defender Leo Gonzalez and coolly deposited past goalkeeper Kasey Keller for a ruthless finish.
New York had a golden opportunity to take the lead nine minutes into the match. After goalkeeper Greg Sutton saved the Red Bulls, coming off his line to smother a deflected ball which fell invitingly for Seattle’s Freddy Montero in the box, RBNY earned a penalty kick.
Captain Thierry Henry fed a through ball to Agudelo behind the Seattle back line. The US national team forward beat Seattle central defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado to the ball. The striker’s nifty footwork to cut the ball back drew contact from Hurtado, who clipped Agudelo for a PK. However, Henry’s low shot was tipped away by Kasey Keller.
In an entertaining back-and-forth affair in the first half, Montero was the inspiration for Seattle’s most dangerous offensives, sending Alvaro Fernandez in alone on goal in the 16th minute. But the Uruguayan failed to capitalize on the opportunity with his touch sending the ball right at Sutton. Montero again tested Sutton from long distance in the 27th but the New York netminder pawed the ball away.
Montero resurfaced in the 39th minute, running onto a weighted ball from Fernandez in the box. His tight angle shot was swatted away by Sutton who recovered to collect the loose ball from the ground while O'Brian White lurked for the rebound.
It was again the Fernandez-Montero combination wreacking havoc in the final minute of the first half with Montero dancing by defender Tim Ream before slamming a shot against the right post from an impossible angle.
New York fired warning shots early in the second half in the 51st minute with a long distance shot from Rafael Marquez while Mehdi Ballouchy missed wide right on a corner kick seven minutes later.
After Agudelo’s goal in the 70th minute, second-half sub Tony Tchani nearly sealed the affair with a header in the 88th minute which was tipped by Keller over the bar.
Seattle nearly scored a dramatic equalizer in stoppage time. Montero’s free kick from 20 yards out was punched away by Sutton and Lamar Neagle skied the rebound over the bar.
Steve Zakuani, who carried a hip injury into the opening match last Tuesday against Los Angeles did not make the trip for Seattle, who instead started Erik Friberg at left midfield and gave draftee Servando Carrasco his first MLS start.
The Red Bulls’ first lineup of 2011 featured new acquisitions Jan Gunnar Solli at right back and Teemu Tainio in central midfield.
The Sounders next host the Houston Dynamo on Friday, March 25 (10 pm ET, Fox Soccer) while the Red Bulls face Columbus on the road on March 26, expecting to miss up to six players on national team duty.
NY – Agudelo (Tainio) 70’
SEA – Hurtado (61’)
Seattle Sounders (4-4-2, right to left): Kasey Keller (captain) – James Riley, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez – Alvaro Fernandez (Mauro Rosales 68’), Servando Carrasco (Lamar Neagle 80’), Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg – Fredy Montero, O’Brian White (Roger Levesque 73’)
Substitutes Not Used: Terry Boss, Patrick Ianni, Zach Scott, Tyson Wahl
New York Red Bulls (4-4-2, right to left): Greg Sutton – Jan Gunnar Solli, Rafael Marquez, Tim Ream, Roy Miller – Dane Richards (Danleigh Borman 90’), Teemu Tainio, Mehdi Ballouchy (Tony Tchani 68’), Joel Lindpere – Juan Agudelo, Thierry Henry (captain)
Substitutes Not Used: Bouna Coundoul, Carlos Mendes, Carl Robinson, Corey Hertzog, Luke Rodgers
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee's Assistants: C.J. Morgante, Corey Rockwell; 4th Official: Alejandro Mariscal