It was a cold but fun night at Red Bull Arena Saturday as the season got started for one of the pre-season picks to be atop the Eastern Conference. A lot of questions would be answered on this night and most of them were pointed at young rookie Juan Agudelo. The potential that he has and has showed on a national team level would finally come at a club level.
He scored the only goal of the match as Finnish international midfielder Teemu Tainio looked up and sprung a fantastic long pass as Agudelo fought off Leo Gonzalez and broke away towards goal. As soon as he was one-on-one with Kasey Keller, Agudelo took the shot off the outside of his right boot and curled it inside the far post for his first career MLS and New York Red Bulls goal. Red Bull Arena exploded. “It feels good.” said Agudelo.” I know people have been saying, have been waiting for me to get that MLS goal and it’s great to do it at the opener.” Not counting the goal he scored in the friendly at Guadalajara during the pre-season, it has been just two days after five whole months from his first USA goal at South Africa on November 17 ’til Saturday night against the Seattle Sounders.
The victory came with a good performance in net by Greg Sutton as he has been working hard all pre-season to get fit and ready just in case Bouna Coundoul couldn’t go. There were some shaky moments as the long shots gave him trouble, but a key save came in the second minute of second half stoppage time. Fred Montero smacked a free kick which resulted in a two handed save from Sutton, but the rebound reached Roger Levesque who shot it high over the crossbar. When it was all said and done, Sutton looked strong in net and got the job done. “He had some key saves in the first half” said head coach Hans Backe. “With a tricky guy like Montero, he’s definitely a player who can make a difference, I think he saved two or three from Montero.”
Earlier in the match the Red Bulls had a chance to go up early in the 9th minute when Agudelo got fouled on a run in the Sounders area. Thierry Henry took the penalty. As he started to make a run and struck it low towards the inside of the near post, Kasey Keller made a great save to his right and got a paw on the ball.
For the Seattle Sounders this is the second match within a week that they have allowed a goal and I don’t believe it is a time for them to panic. I’m not sure how the supporters are feeling right now seeing their side with two losses already on the ledger for this season. “We have to move on” said head coach Sigi Schmid. “The league gave us a tough 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. It would have been nice to only play one game, but it is what it is and we know we are a better team.”
For the Red Bulls they travel to Columbus and lose five players during the international friendly matches while Agudelo and Tim Ream stay with the US national team. Dane Richards goes to Jamaica, Rafa Marquez to Mexico and Bouna Coundoul goes to Senegal, but we shall see how the club will do when they get to next Saturday.