BY Stanley Holmes 07:22PM 03/19/2011

Sounders start with two defeats, no goals

Sounders had their moments but couldn’t finish when it counted.

Juan Agudelo of the New York Red Bulls celebrates after scoring the winning goal against the Seattle Sounders / Getty Images

A supreme piece of skill from 18-year-old wunderkind Juan Agudelo was the difference in an entertaining, end-to-end match that gave the New York Red Bulls a 1-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders.

Agudelo, in his first start, showed why he is getting call-ups to the U.S. National Team. He broke free of Jhon Kennedy Hurtado in the second half and dribbled into the Sounders 18-yard box to smash the ball past Kasey Keller with the outside of his right foot — all while racing at top speed and trying to shake off defender Leo Gonzalez. It was a sublime finish from the teenager.

The loss has to sting for the Sounders. The Rave Green played well in stretches, creating chances and busting up potential threats. They executed the counter well but also chased the ball for long periods of time.

“I thought New York had more of the game in the first half, the possession for sure,” said Coach Sigi Schmid. “We knew that was going to happen. I thought we created some good chances of the counterattack during the first half, but at the end of the day, we gave up a bad goal. We got to be better than that.”

Fredy Montero had three chances in the first half but he couldn’t put one away. He combined well with right midfielder Alvaro Fernandez. Both players gave Red Bulls defenders problems.

In one encouraging sequence, Montero played a give-and-go with Fernandez in the 39th minute but Montero’s hard shot from the right side was blocked by Red Bulls keeper Greg Sutton.

“Tough match,” Montero said. “We can see once again that whoever doesn’t score gets scored on and that’s the truth.”

The Red Bulls put the Sounders under barrage in the first half. The New Yorkers kept possession and pushed forward, as they took advantage of their new dynamic duo up front –veteran French superstar Thierry Henry and the youngter Agudelo.  Within the first 30 minutes, it seemed they won six corner kicks in the first 20 minutes. New York had a total 11 corners to zero for Seattle.

Henry, Red Bulls captain, fed a through ball to Agudelo behind the Seattle back line. The forward beat Seattle central defender Hurtado to the ball. The striker’s nifty footwork to cut the ball back drew contact from Hurtado, who clipped Agudelo for a PK

But Keller stopped Henry’s penalty kick in the 8th minute to keep the Sounders in the game.

The Sounders stepped it up in the second half. Erik Friberg, playing the left side of midfield, created several penetrating passes and found space to push the ball up the field. His efforts put the Red Bulls on their back heels. He even scored late in the second half but the linesman ruled it offsides.

But the momentum changed in the 70th minute. That’s when Agudelo took off on his penetrating run and scored. Red Bulls midfielder Teemu Tainio said he noticed a big space behind Agudelo 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,” Tainio said.

Rookie Servando Carrasco looked solid in his first start. He began shaky but grew in confidence as the game went on. Expect him to only get better with time. Argentine Mauro Rosales made his debut in the second half, coming on for Fernandez but was not a factor in the game.

The Sounders had a chance to equalize in the dying seconds of stoppage time. Montero ripped a free kick at the Red Bulls keeper, who couldn’t hold onto it. Substitute Lamar Neagle, though, couldn’t connect on the rebound.

The loss leaves the Sounders now 0-2-0. But while New York clearly dominated the match — out shooting Seattle 17-10 — the Sounders did put five of their shots on frame compared to six for New York.

Seattle could have secured a draw and played well enough in stretches to even win. But for that to happen on the road, they will need to bury their chances, fix the defensive mistakes (which will come with more games for Hurtado) and create some lucky breaks.

The Major League Soccer season is just beginning with 32 matches to go. The Sounders have time to fine tune but they still need a cold, calculating and clinical finisher. Montero, who is an excellent goal scorer, is trying too hard. Sounders need to shell out big DP money for a big-time, proven goal scorer.


YourThoughts

  • EverydayFan

    I thought the offense had great energy most of the night, but was surprised the way White was such a missing person … this is partly due to my Nkufo withdrawls, but he’s supposed to be super fit and super fast, and I don’t think I saw him sprint once tonight. He needs to decide who he wants to be.

    On D, I’m starting to think it’s a bit much to ask El Presidente to return to match form so fast, because he’s been involved in 2 PKs and 2 goals in 3 games … while he may be the most individually talented CB on the team, he doesn’t seem to combine as well with Parke as Ianni did last season, and that combination just wasn’t broke.

    Lastly, I know Neagle missed a put-back tonight, but man, I think he’s going to be a factor. I hope he continues to earn minutes….

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  • http://www.facebook.com/darinpike Darin Pike

    Interesting…it will be fun to see if he can sustain those numbers playing USC, OR and Stanford instead of EWU and HI.

  • Pixeldawg

    “12.5 percent of Price’s 122 throws have resulted in touchdowns (3 vs.
    Eastern Washington, 4 vs. Hawaii, 3 vs. Nebraska, 3 vs. California).”
    3+4+3+3 != 14
    He threw for 4 TDs vs. Nebraska as well as vs. Hawaii.

  • Anonymous

    Montana may want to transfer. These numbers are remarkable!

  • crumudgeon

    As much as I like the way Locker finished last year, I always had problems with his lack of touch and accuracy passing the ball.  We kept waiting for him to “finally get it”, but he never really did.  He became a better quarterback last year, but his passing was still average at best. They always said he had “a canon for an arm”, but canons are not the most accurate of weapons.  
    How many times did we see receivers as open as Polk was on his touchdown reception Saturday, only to see Jake sail the ball 4 or 5 yards over their heads?  But he made up for this with his athleticism and his leadership.  The Denver Broncos have a similar athlete on their roster who’s currently their 3rd string quarterback.The Huskies finally have a quarterback who’s throwing ability is not a liability.  In fact, his only liability seems to his physical size — compared to most quarterbacks, he is on the short side — around 6′ tall.  But when he is on the field the Husky offense seems to move almost effortlessly down the field.  Like Locker, he appears to possess those intangible qualities such as leadership.  He also smiles a lot too, which gives the play by play guys something to comment on when the camera pans the sidelines.  This might be the beginning of something special. 

  • Lyssa

    The “Price” is right!! Go Keith! I love you cousin! Also, how come we can’t find his jersey anywhere? What’s up with that?

  • J4hansen

    I have always stated that Jake Locker was a great athete at UW, but not that great of QB in the sense of what that position is suppose to be.  And certainly he wouldn’t be Coach Sark’s first choice, if both showed up on the same day, as Jake came from a high school that ran a form of the Veer offense.  He was not a passing QB in high school.  Price, to my surprise, seems to be a more typical QB type and a much better passer, considering Nick Montana can’t pass him in the depth charts.  At 6’1″ I don’t feel Price is that short if you compare him to Drew Breeze and such QB’s in the NFL.  He could stand to put a few more pounds on the body though.