Pre Match, Round 2 vs New York Red Bulls:
Fredy Montero scored 3 goals against New York last year. Including the first Sounders FC goal in that beautiful 3-0 inaugural game. Juan Pablo Angel is one of the leading scorers in MLS over the last 3-4 years. He wants revenge. The Red Bulls only won 5 games last year. They won their first of this season last week. New York Red Bulls are a challenging team to understand who they really are in order to evaluate them. They are a best to worst team. They went to the MLS Championship in 2008, and had only the 5 wins in 2009. So who are they? Talented, fast, excellent on the attack, and organized. Hans Backe, their new coach, like Sigi Schmid, is experienced and has a great reputation that gives the team a new energy. Not unlike Sigi did for the Sounders in their first season. Players are responding to Hans Backe well. They also have a fantastic new soccer only stadium. So, for New York, it is not unlike Seattle circa 2009. It’s been all things New York. But this new taste Red Bull has not faced a team like Seattle. Seattle is also a more organized team. Seattle is an improved passing team. The creativity up front is starting to compliment their natural attacking talent. Most importantly, New York has not played against a team with as organized a defense as Seattle. For the New York to prove who they really are, they can not keep anything hidden tonight.
So, here are the keys to the match:
Seattle’s back four with Alonso adding that extra defensive midfield presence, allows one to believe a statement like, “is it possible to not give up a single goal in a season?” The realist; “No! Duh.” The Sounder in me; “Wow . . . maybe!”
There is also defending by attacking. If the Sounders keep pressure on New York’s defense then New York will make enough mistakes for Seattle to take the game. That leads to the next key. Seattle left more goals on the plate last year than any team in the MLS mess hall. Hopefully some of the preseason Kitchen Duty focus on the attacking third will pay off. If Seattle cleans off even 1 or 2 of these chances, which New York will serve tonight, Seattle will have its helping of total game control.
Nonetheless, New York has its shiny new stadium, high-octane energy boost attack, and their new “everything looks Big Apple dandy” outlook. They are going to fly into Seattle with wind at their back. This means the psychological key to the match is endurance. Seattle will have to find a way to endure and survive New York’s pressure, then capitalize on counter attack opportunities. Once the Red Bull energy high has fallen, the Sounders will have their chance to throw one or two knock out punches. If patience is a virtue and Seattle plays that card, then expect 65 minutes of split nerves and at least 15 minutes of victorious joy.
O, how do I not embarrass myself here. If you have played any of the recent FIFA video games on X-Box or PS-3 you know this match. You out posses, out pass, and out shoot an inferior ranked opponent, and they beat you on some silly deflected corner kick that bounces fortuitously to a striker, who almost apologetically bloops the ball up, which barely finds the net after deflecting off the top crossbar. But all your calculated pass possession building up into the attacking third, littering the goal with riveting well placed shots, only ends up emitted as noxious gas. Somehow, your Pele brilliance is recycled away from net rather than bicycled into net. I’m actually fine with this loss. Completely calm. Second game in and 28 to go. Hey, taking the calming perspective approach, Real Madrid lost to a third division Spanish team and were knocked out of their version of the US Open Cup, the Copa Del Rey.
What was impressive was the Juan Pablo Angel looked invisible and Steve Zakuani again looked near a scoring binge. The man of the match was no doubt, Bouna Coundoul, the Red Bulls keeper. Zakuani broke down the left side of the box, eluded a defender, put the ball up to his stronger right foot and struck a powerful shot across the face of goal. Any other night, any other keeper, Zakuani would have opened his 2010 Sounders goal account, but this one was parried away beautifully by Coundoul and flung safely out over the end line.
Alright, enough blog-crastination, that loss stung. Mostly because it was at home. How do the Sounders make Quest an invincible fortress?
Sigi, Sigi, Sigi, Oi, Oi, Oi! Sir, I have a question.