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May 15, 2010 at 1:08 PM

Sounders FC v. New York Red Bulls, preview and prediction

New York Red Bulls (5-2-0, first place in Eastern Conference)

Head coach: Hans Backe, first year

Last week: Lost 4-0 at San Jose

Last year: 5-19-6, worst record in MLS

KEY NEW YORK PLAYERS

F Juan Pablo Angel — The Colombian is one of the best players in the league and certainly the main scoring threat, especially with Kandji out. Seattle has struggled defensively, but I’m sure he’ll be the main focus in the back.

M Joel Lindpere — He and Real Salt Lake’s Alvaro Saborio are probably the favorites to win Newcomer of the Year. Very well-rounded player that brings stability to the midfield. Will provide service on those ever-dangerous set pieces.

D Mike Petke — Lots of talk this season has been about the rookie centerback Tim Ream, making Petke a bit underappreciated. Whether it’s Noonan, Evans or Montero playing up front in the middle, the veteran will be called upon several times I’m sure.

KEY MATCHUPS

Lindpere v. Sounders FC midfielder Nathan Sturgis — My guess is Sturgis gets the call in replacing injured CM Osvaldo Alonso, big shoes to fill indeed. Especially defensively against the Red Bulls’ playmaker in the middle.

New York goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul v. Bouna Coundoul — The athletic backstop leads the league in saves, but has been known to make a bad mistake or two. It will be interesting to see which guy shows up?

New York midfielder Dane Richards v. Sounders FC defender Leo Gonzalez — This was one of my key matchups in the game earlier this season, and watching those two go at it in Week Two has me convinced it will be a fun one to watch again.

PREDICTION

The Sounders are starved for a win and you’ll see a lot of intensity from the guys in green. I think you should also expect to see a handful of bookings.

Nothing like being in last place to motivate ya. However this team is in last place for a reason, it’s making bad defensive errors and can’t finish scoring chances. Will this be the game it turns around? I’m unconvinced.

Sounders FC 1, New York Red Bulls 1

30′ — Brad Evans (Steve Zakuani)

67′ — Lindpere (un)

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