New York returns to the Pacific Northwest a few days after securing a point in Portland. Now the depleted Red Bulls take on Seattle in Friday's primetime match.
Seattle Sounders FC: Maligned forward Fredy Montero scored in the 90th minute of play in Seattle’s 1-0 road win over Toronto FC this past Saturday. The Colombian curled his strike around the Toronto wall to notch his third goal of the year, extending the Sounders’ unbeaten streak to four matches. Despite playing a man down for most of the second half, Seattle’s defense and goalie Kasey Keller held firm to record their fifth clean sheet of the season.
New York Red Bulls: New York managed to snag a point from the Portland Timbers on Sunday night in one of the season’s wildest matches. Austin da Luz provided the Red Bulls with an early lead, which NY rode into halftime, but the Timbers stormed back with three consecutive goals to open the second half. A fantastic movement involving Thierry Henry, Joel Lindpere, and Mehdi Ballouchy allowed the Frenchman to slice the Timber advantage in half before Dwayne De Rosario converted a penalty in stoppage time following a fortuitous handball by Rodney Wallace. An away victory would have been phenomenal, but a draw in a hostile environment should please Hans Backe.
Seattle: The only blemish in the victory over Toronto FC was defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado’s sending off for two yellow cards in the 49th minute of play. He plays an aggressive style and Seattle was lucky that a weak Toronto side failed to take advantage of Hurtado’s absence. The Colombian's departure against a stronger opponent could have yielded a different result. Hurtado is now suspended and will sit out the match against New York.
New York: While Dane Richards will be back for the Seattle tilt, New York will miss its striking tandem of Luke Roders (injured) and Thierry Henry (suspended). This, when combined with the continued absences of Juan Agudelo, Tim Ream, and Rafael Márquez, signifies that the Red Bulls will be extremely depleted for the primetime match. New York has relied upon its potent attack while its stellar central defenders have been away; now the midfield must carry the exhausted Red Bulls.
Seattle: Head coach Sigi Schmid has been playing an aggressive offensive style all season long with three forwards and deep runs by his defenders into the attack. In the Toronto game, the Sounders managed to outshoot the home side 4-1 while playing with ten men. The Sounders lead the league in shots, but they still have problem converting those multiple chances into goals. Schmid will continue to flood the penalty area as he searches for his go-to scorer in the absence of winger Steve Zakuani and forward O’Brian White.
New York: Depending upon how spry Dane Richards’ legs are, the Jamaican, recently returning from Gold Cup duty, could partner Dwayne De Rosario up top for New York. De Rosario impressed as a striker against Portland, but the Canadian had Henry shouldering creative burdens. The fleet-footed Richards is on the pitch to stretch the length of the field and provide a direct outlet. The interaction between the duo will be noteworthy.
Seattle: The Sounders will face one of the league’s top two squads in this upcoming matchup against the New York Red Bulls. With goals remaining a challenge, they’ll need to be focused and disciplined throughout the entire match. The key will be Fredy Montero. He has to step up and live up to his Designated Player label in order for Seattle to walk away with a win against a talented New York team.
New York: The Red Bulls have largely been the outfit taking the initiative in matches during 2011. The last time New York was similarly undermanned was against the Crew in April. During that battle, Backe instructed his 11 to bunker down and thwart any of Columbus’ attacks. The result was a nil-nil draw. If New York takes it to the Sounders, the approach would be indicative of the Red Bulls’ development.
John Zielonka: New York’s road record isn’t impressive with one lone win and five draws in seven matches. The pattern holds as the two sides play to a 1-1 tie.
Avery Raimondo: New York will do its best to protect the porous interior of its back-line. The Sounders will be frustrated by the obstinacy of their opponents until Fredy Montero, ala last weekend, provides another moment of genius in a one-nil victory.
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