Sounders FC (6-4-7) vs. New York Red Bulls (5-2-8)
Thursday, June 23, 7 p.m., CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.
TV broadcast: ESPN2 (Glenn Davis and John Harkes)
Radio broadcast: KIRO 97.3-FM (Arlo White)
Referee: Michael Kennedy
KEY RED BULLS PLAYERS
M/F Dwayne De Rosario — New York will be without a bunch of stars. Thierry Henry is suspended. Tim Ream and Juan Agudelo are preparing for the Gold Cup final with the U.S. team. Rafa Marquez similarly with Mexico. Luke Rodgers is hurt. A lot of pressure on offense will fall on the talented Canadian.
M Teemu Tainio — Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid said there might not be a better midfielder in the league in terms of distribution. From Finland, the 31-year-old joined MLS this year from Ajax. Had the assist on Agudelo’s winning goal in the teams’ previous meeting in Red Bull Arena.
M Joel Lindpere — Hasn’t been super productive this season (one goal, two assists), but has the class to make the difference on the night. Has played 1,345 minutes this season, just four behind defender Roy Miller for the team lead.
Mehdi Ballouchy vs. Osvaldo Alonso — This will be the battle in the middle of the field. Ballouchy has a pair of goals this season and likes to attack and create, but he’ll have to make the most of his chances against the most proficient tackler in the league.
Mauro Rosales vs. Roy Miller — Now healthy, the Argentine is playing very well for the Sounders on the right. Miller likes to push forward, so it might like space to counterattack. Producing some dangerous crosses from the flank could be lethal to a makeshift New York backline.
Record crowd vs. home form — Seattle boasts a fairly pedestrian 3-2-3 record at home this season, but tonight’s crowd will be something special. Between 45,000 and 50,000 are expected and what better environment can you ask for to start making CenturyLink a supremely difficult place to play?
As mentioned earlier, New York has a lot of quality players missing (Henry, Marquez, Ream, Agudelo, Rodgers). They have also stayed on the road since Sunday’s game in Portland. Make no mistake, Seattle is the clear favorite to get three points.
It will help that Alvaro Fernandez and Erik Friberg are finally fit and able to get back in the mix. Fredy Montero should also be coming in with confidence after the great goal in Toronto and his past success against New York.
Generally what’s been expected this season hasn’t happened on the field, but I fear the Red Bulls are too shorthanded.
Sounders FC 2, New York 1
SEA: Fernandez (Rosales) 11′
NY: De Rosario (Ballouchy) 13′
SEA: Montero (Friberg) 58′
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What do you think? Three more points on the way?