HARRISON, N.J. – The Seattle Sounders dodged trouble for most, but not all, of Saturday night’s game against the New York Red Bulls.
Finally, in the 70th minute, the Sounders’ defense cracked when 18-year-old national team selection Juan Agudelo slipped a goal past Kasey Keller. That was the only score New York needed in a 1-0 victory at Red Bulls Arena in New Jersey.
The loss drops the Sounders to 0-2 in the season’s first week and comes on the heels of Tuesday’s 1-0 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy. In both games, the Sounders had their chances but could not convert, a familiar theme from early last season when the team struggled to score and earn points.
“We play two of the better teams in the league and we showed that we can play them pretty even,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “Now we just have to make sure that we come out with the results.”
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The Red Bulls, who were the top team in the Eastern Conference in 2010, showed they will be a team to be reckoned with. Their lineup features international starts Tierry Henry and Rafa Marquez and emerging stars such as Tim Ream and Agudelo.
New York dominated the score sheet. The Red Bulls (1-0) had 13 shots and seven on goal, and amassed 10 corner kicks. The Sounders also managed to survive an early penalty kick that was blocked by Keller.
Jhon Kennedy Hurtado was called for a foul in the box on Agudelo in the 8th minute. Henry struck a low shot to Keller’s right but the Sounders’ goalie was able to get a hand on it and knock it out of bounds.
Fredy Montero provided Seattle’s best chances. His lob to Alvaro Fernandez in the 16th minute gave Fernandez a one-on-one with goalie Greg Sutton, but Fernandez wasn’t able to get much on the shot. In the 40th minute, Montero rifled a 40-yard strike on goal that Sutton was able to block.
Montero’s best chance came moments before the end of the first half. Deep in the box, Montero beat Ream to the end line, but his shot hit the post.
The game remained tied until Agudelo slipped past Hurtado after taking a long through ball from Teemu Tainio and then muscled past Leo Gonzalez to strike a shot past Keller into the left side of the net.
“I thought we created some good chances on the counterattack during the first half, but at the end of the day we gave up a bad goal,” Schmid said. “We’ve got to be better than that.”
In the 91st minute, Montero took a free kick after Lamar Neagle was fouled about 20 yards out. His shot deflected off Sutton to Neagle, who was battling with Ream for position. But Neagle’s shot was high and Seattle was left with another scoreless performance.
“We have got to keep our head up and realize that this is not the end,” Montero said. “We have to keep on moving forward. We have done some good things on the pitch but it is obviously not enough. We have got to give more.”
Three Sounders did not make the trip due to injuries: Brad Evans (hamstring), Steve Zakuani (groin) and Pat Noonan (abductor). … Mauro Rosales, the 30-year-old Argentine signed by Seattle on Friday, made his debut in the 68th minute when he replaced Fernandez. … Making his first start for the Sounders was midfielder Servando Carrasco. … The Sounders return to action Friday against the Houston Dynamo at Qwest Field.