Juan Agudelo Emerges Tops In Tussle With Colombian Fredy Montero

HARRISON, N.J. - Two young forwards with Colombian ancestry – Fredy Montero of the Seattle Sounders and Juan Agudelo of the New York Red Bulls – shone during an opening night victory for the home side. Agudelo, an American international born in Manizales, Colombia, provided the lone breakthrough in the match when Kasey Keller couldn’t save the striker’s 70th minute effort.

The first MLS goal of the 18-year-old’s career came when Teemu Tainio, New York’s latest Scandinavian import, lofted a pass behind Seattle’s defense. The onrushing Agudelo streaked towards the opposing goal jostling for the ball with Leo Gonzalez before rifling the emphatic winner into the goal in front of New York’s rabid supporters in Section 101.

"It feels good," Agudelo said, describing the experience of scoring his first professional goal. "I know people have been waiting for me to get that MLS goal and it's great to do it at the opener. There's a lot of people here. I'm really happy."

Agudelo praised the pass he received as "the perfect ball by Teemu [Tainio] - couldn’t have been played better." The Finn, though, gave the credit for his first MLS assist to the budding American star.

"I saw there was a big space behind him and he made the first cut, so all I had to do was play the ball behind the defense in front of Agudelo and he did the rest," the former Ajax midfielder explained.

Thierry Henry, the star striker who started alongside Agudelo, was profuse in his praise about the match's winner.

"It was great," said the French striker. "What a goal." Henry would go on later to say that Agudelo is "a great player, powerful, good on the ball, and the way he finished his one-against-one today was a great one – we needed that."

Agudelo’s counterpart, Montero, was the impetus of every dangerous chance for the away team. After a timid performance against Los Angeles on Tuesday night, Montero popped up all over New York’s backline and dazzled with his creativity and technique. He combined well with Uruguayan Alvaro Fernandez to create opportunities for the Sounders, but Greg Sutton as well as the Canadian’s goal frame managed to deny the unlucky striker.

Montero summarized the evening with the adroit statement: "Tough match. We can see once again that whoever doesn't score gets scored on and that's the truth."

Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid is looking past the loss that only furthered the damage created by the home defeat to Los Angeles earlier in the week.

"We have to move on," said Schmid. "The league gave us the toughest schedule to begin the season with. It's a punishment for having good crowds - you know that's why we end up playing the opener and we have to go again on the road."

Ex-Red Bull, Jeff Parke, who holds the second-most appearances for New York, broke down what the Sounders need to do to right their slump against Houston next Friday.

"Finish our chances," said the central defender. "We are going to come up with chances and we have to do better defensively keeping them off the board so that we can give ourselves a chance to sneak one at the end for three points."

New York has the opportunity to add another victory to their tally next weekend when they travel out to Ohio to take on the Columbus Crew; however, they will be without a host of their starters. Agudelo, Tim Ream, Rafa Marquez, Roy Miller, and Dane Richards as well as Bouna Coundoul have all garnered national team calls

Montero, though, is still waiting for his time with Colombia.

"I have to get back to my highest level, two games have passed and I want to score," said Montero. "If that’s enough to go back to the national team, then I will welcome it. Every Colombian player wishes he can wear the jersey for the national team."

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