Photo by Howard C. Smith/ISIPhotos.com
For all the hype surrounding Juan Agudelo heading into the 2011 MLS season it was easy to overlook the fact that he had yet to score an MLS goal.
That changed Saturday night, with the 18-year old delivering his first score in dramatic fashion, finishing off a strong run with a pin-point finish to help the Red Bulls post a 1-0 victory against the Seattle Sounders on Saturday night.
The goal delivered a well-earned win for a Red Bulls side that dominated possession but failed to produce as many dangerous chances as a Sounders side content to counter-attack.
After squandering several chances, including a Thierry Henry penalty kick saved by Kasey Keller, the Red Bulls finally broke through in the 70th minute when Teemu Tainio sent a long ball to Agudelo, who raced past Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and muscled off Nelson Gonzalez before firing a shot past Keller for his first career MLS goal.
The Red Bulls started strongly and looked ready to take an early lead when Agudelo drew a penalty after being tripped up by Jhon Kennedy Hurtado. Henry took the spot kick and hit a hard shot Keller stopped with a diving one-handed save.
Seattle had its share of chances, mainly on the counterattack, but missed chances and some clutch saves from Red Bulls goalkeeper Greg Sutton kept the Sounders scoreless.
Seattle nearly equalized late on a Montero free kick, but the rebound fell to a wide open Lamar Neagle, who shanked a clear look from close range.
The night was a good showcase for New York's new faces, including Tainio and right back Jan Gunnar Solli, who both impressed. Sutton, who was chosen as a starter over a healthy Bouna Coundoul, rewarded the team's confidence in him by making key saves and cleanly handling possession when teammates sent him passes.
Seattle's offense found chances, but struggled to apply consistent pressure without winger Steve Zakuani, who missed the match with an injury. Right winger Alvaro Fernandez showed promise after a slow start, while Erik Friberg had a quiet night in his second MLS match.
Here are the match highlights:
Seattle will look for its first win on Friday against Houston, while New York returns to action on Saturday against Columbus at Crew Stadium on Saturday.
What did you think of the match? Impressed with the Red Bulls? Still worried about Henry's injury issues? Think the Sounders are in dire need of some attacking reinforcements?
Share your thoughts below.