Photos by Nick Danielson and Matt Warso Captions by Toby Dunkelberg
It was a perfect day for soccer as the Sounders welcomed the New York Red Bulls to CenturyLink for the Sounders 2017 home opener. It was the first game Seattle had played at home since winning the 2016 MLS Cup. As such there was extra excitement in the air during the pregame festivities and an extra raucous of noise when the MLS Cup banner was unveiled.
The game started quickly with both sides confident in their ability going forward. Oneil Fisher and Joevin Jones took turns bombing forward for Seattle to add bit of pressure to an already daunting Sounders attack.
The Red Bulls have been playing a 4-2-2-2 formation recently which frequently leaves them exposed down the wings. In an effort to counter that they pushed their back line up the field opening up space for Jordan Morris to make runs in behind.
GOAL – Dempsey chips the penalty in for 1-0 Seattle
In the 27th minute Jordan Morris intercepted a back pass to Luis Robles, but the Red Bull goalie clipped his heels earning himself a yellow card and the Sounders a penalty. Clint Dempsey stepped up to the line and calmly chipped it centrally past a diving Robles for the USMNT players second goal on the season.
Halftime – Seattle Sounders 1 – 0 NY Red Bulls
The Red Bulls looked to respond but had trouble generating chances from the wings. Instead they opted to push centrally but again they found little success despite owning the majority of possession heading into halftime.
GOAL – BWP knocks it in for the equalizer
The second half started with a battle for possession in the midfield. In one of the rare ventures out wide from the Red Bulls, Sal Zizzo managed to get a perfect cross off past Joevin Jones. BWP was the first one to get to it and his ensuing header was perfectly place to get past Frei for the equalizer.
Seattle pushed higher in search of the full three points for the 45,600 fans in attendance. At this point Jones started launching off crosses every other minute. His efforts yielded good crosses in the first half but there were no runners to get on the end of them. Having once again adjusted at halftime the Sounders started to convert those good crosses into good chances.
GOAL – Morris heads it in for 2-1 Seattle
Jones’s effort finally paid off in the 66th minute. After evading two defenders on the touchline Jones laid off the ball to a waiting Lodeiro. The Uruguayan deftly lobbed it up to Jordan Morris who hammered it home for his first goal of the young season.
Hoping to play the spoiler the Red Bulls again pressed forward in search of the equalizer. But again they met stiff resistance in the form of Alonso, Roldan, Marshall, and fill-in CB Gustav Svensson. Svensson admitted after the game that he was much more comfortable at CB, saying “it’s much closer to my natural position.”
GOAL – Shipp taps Jones’s shot for the goal, 3-1 Seattle
In the 79th minute Joevin Jones once again made his mark on the game. Seeing a shooting lane open from 20 yards out he cracked out a low shot. Shipp got a little touch on it and it was just enough to redirect the ball into the lower left corner of the Red Bulls game. It was an incredible act of luck but one that put the game safely out of reach for the Sounders.
Substitutes entered the field and Bruin nearly had a goal himself. Only expert defending from former Sounder Aaron Long stopped him. After the game Red Bull head coach Jesse Marsch point out Long as a “long bright-spot” and praised his handling of an emotional homecoming.
Fulltime: Seattle Sounders 3 – 1 NY Red Bulls
With a fulltime result of 3-1 the Sounders have finished their home opener in style. The comfortable win allows them to take an extra bit of momentum into their preparations to host Atlanta United on Saturday March 25th. The battle between high profile expansion clubs will even bigger scoring abilities will be sure to excite.