While New York has to be satisfied with last week's 1-0 home win v Chicago, there's still lots of room for improvement, especially in the midfield. The Red Bulls get DM Robinson back, but on Seattle plastic pitch, will a still-rusty Angel get the start (10:30p Saturday on FSC)? Will he play? Seattle started the 2010 season with a 2-0 home shutout last week v Philly, but as Steve Clare notes our Seeing Red podcast this week, the Sounders were playing an expansion team that was down a man for most of the match. They also can do a lot better, but will play without injured underwear model Freddy Ljungberg. Can New York come away with a point or, even better? Let's dive in.
Position and Recent Form:
Seattle, 3 pts from 1 match, t4th, W
New York, 3 pts from 1 match, t7th, W
The Seattle forwards vs. the Red Bulls' defense:
Fredy Montero and Pat Noonan vs. Roy Miller, Mike Petke, Tim Ream and Jeremy Hall (and Bouna Coundoul). Fredy feasted on the Red Bulls' defense last year, scoring three times in Seattle's win and draw vs New York. Montero had a goal and an assist last week in the season opener. Recent signee Pat Noonan is a question mark filling in for Ljungberg, but the MLS veteran is a proven scorer (45 goals all-time) who loves to play the MetroBulls. The Red Bulls' backline continues to play well, though keeper Coundoul had an adventure or two last week on the way to the shutout of Chicago. Ream and Petke have been rock-solid in the middle. Montero's game is on another level, though. Advantage: Seattle
New York's attackers vs. the Sounders' defense:
Juan Agudelo and Mac Kandji vs. Zach Scott, Tyrone Marshall, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, and Leo Gonzalez (and Kasey Keller). I'm going to out on a limb and say that Hans Backe will rest "big Juan A" Juan Pablo Angel given his lack of match-fitness and Qwest's artificial turf. The untested 17-year old rookie "little Juan A" Agudelo will get the nod. Mac Kandji showed little last week, but Backe needs his veteran presence on the field with the first-timer. Seattle allowed less than a goal per game last season, with the ageless wonder Keller in the net. If New York punches through, it'll be a surprise. Advantage: Seattle
Joel Lindpere, Dane Richards, Sinisa Ubiparipovic, and Carl Robinson vs. Roger Levesque, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Steve Zakuani . Evans scored the first goal of the MLS season last week, and is a budding star who has already logged time with the US National Team. Alonso is quality, and Zakuani is coming off a 4 goal/4 assist rookie season. For New York, the Estonian Express is the story of the season to date, with goals in his last two outings. The midfield will be lifted and settled by the inclusion of Robinson, who's put his visa issues behind him. Richards was off last week for sure, but hopefully his speed on the fake turf will allow him to rise above. Slight Advantage: Seattle
Sigi Schmid is Sigi Schmid. Bigger than life. Just plain big. Wears scarves. MLS Cup champ with two different teams. Hans Backe has won championships, too, and is still learning MLS. Advantage: Push
Forecast is for a low of 38 degrees and, surprise, showers, just the type of weather that Lindpere likes. Still, Seattle is 8-2-6 all-time in MLS play at Qwest, and nearly 40,000 Sounders loonies and the Soundwave band will generate the best MLS home-field advantage West of Toronto. If you haven't seen the MLS Gameday 360 video of SEA-PHIL from last week, do so. The "Seattle! Sounders!" chant gave me chills. Advantage: Seattle
Prediction: The New York Red Bulls haven't won a regular-season match away from home since a 2-1 win in LA on May 10, 2008. They will on the road this season, but not tomorrow night. It's just too tall an order. I see Sounders goals from Montero and Zakuani in a 2-nil Seattle victory.