Sounders FC (0-1-0) vs. New York Red Bulls (0-0-0)
Saturday, March 19, 4:30 p.m., Red Bull Arena
TV: KONG 6/16 (Arlo White)
Radio: 97.3 KIRO (Arlo White)
Referee: Jair Marrufo
KEY NEW YORK PLAYERS
F Thierry Henry — An easy pick. Not just because he’s one of the most recognizable names in the league, but because he’s a central figure this year. Juan Pablo Angel isn’t around so there are 10-12 goals to pick up. Oh yeah, he’s supremely talented as well.
D Rafa Marquez — Makes the switch to centerback this year and it could turn out great for the Red Bulls as he pairs with Tim Ream. Has first-rate experience from playing in big games all over the world. Also has the skill of a midfielder, which will help with distribution out of the back.
GK Greg Sutton — By all accounts, Bouna Coundoul has been supplanted as the starter by the 33-year-old Canadian. There will be a big crowd (20,000+) and a lot of excitement around the home opener. Will he stand up to the pressure?
Fredy Montero vs. Tim Ream — Ream is a touted prospect for the U.S. men’s national team, but he’s hardly a finished product in his second year. Montero has killed the Red Bulls defense in the past, with four goals and four games if I’m remembering correctly. Will the trend continue?
Dane Richards vs. Leo Gonzalez — Richards was the first name out of Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid’s mouth when asked about New York players that are a concern. The speedy winger could be a handful for Seattle’s Costa Rican left back, who sometimes has trouble defending the small, quick types.
Sounders FC expectations vs. performance — Sure, Seattle’s first two games to the 2011 season are brutal. But this is a team that wants to be considered one of the best in the league and an 0-2 start, or even 0-1-1, is hardly the showing of MLS elite. Will the guys in rave green bounce back?
This is a winnable game for Seattle. New York is acclaimed as the best team in the East, but is that really saying much? Where their goals will come from should be a big concern.
There are concerns on the other side as well, and I need to see the Sounders hold someone to zero in the back before I can predict it. While Juninho’s strike was a nice one, it came too easy. I don’t think the defense has instilled much confidence yet.
Hopefully we get an up-and-down game tonight and I think we will. The actions tends to open up for Seattle on the road. Both teams will have chances and I see it played out even in the end.
Sounders FC 1, New York Red Bulls 1
SEA — Montero (Zakuani) 19′
NY — Lindpere (Richards) 55′
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What do you think? How do you see it playing out?