The luck of the Irish carried over from Saint Paddy’s day into the weekend as the lean, mean green machine that is the Seattle Sounders took down the New York Red Bulls in the former’s home opener.
With Clint Dempsey having returned home to CenturyLink Field following his bout with an irregular heartbeat and newly acquired Norwegian forward Fredrik Gulbrandsen making his first MLS start for New York, excitement was high for both sets of fans. The Red Bulls, having not lost a regular season game since July of 2016 against NYCFC, looked to expand their unbeaten streak to 19. Over 45,000 attended the match in Jet City and were rewarded with brilliant football…from one side that is.
Coming off of two consecutive victories the Red Bulls should have been confident going into Sunday’s game, yet their on-field display proved otherwise. Despite enjoying more possession in the first half, they played noticeably slower and on their back-foot; a far-cry from their often touted lightning pace.
New York’s best opportunity of the first half would come through midfielder Felipe who put his boot swiftly through the ball outside the box, forcing Seattle’s Stefan Frei to deflect the shot.
Seattle took a restrained approach to their bouts of possession, building out of the back looking for the high defensive line of the Red Bulls to falter. Last year’s breakout star, forward Jordan Morris, with his speed and knack for finding space was to be the key to dismantle the Red Bull defense. Given the turtle-like pace of Red Bull veteran center back Damien Perrinelle, it was not hard for Morris to find a strategic route to unlock New York’s defense.
The Sounders would strike first after drawing a penalty via a foul on Morris. Perrinelle, attempting to take the pressure off of himself, played a short ball back to Red Bull’s keeper Luis Robles which ultimately forced him to come off of his line early. Robles, making every effort to bail New York out of a desperate situation, clipped the boot of Seattle’s Morris and concede a penalty. US fan-favorite Clint Dempsey would put a confident penalty past Robles, scoring the match’s first goal..
In the second half, the Red Bulls managed to put together at least one moment of brilliance in the match. Right back Sal Zizzo launched a cross into the box, finding striker Bradley Wright-Phillips who put a powerful header past Seattle’s Frei to open his scoring account for the season.
Red Bull hopes would fade fast when a cross from Sounders winger Nicolas Lodeiro would find Morris who, through composure well beyond his 22 years, found the back of NY’s net to put Seattle back on top. Seattle would put the game to bed in the 81st minute when full back Joevin Jones’ shot deflected off of winger Harry Shipp to give the Sounders a 3-1 advantage.
Although the Red Bulls fell short of winning their first three games of the season, fans can be assured there are impressive moments of play to be built upon. We know Wright-Phillips is a streaky scorer and when he is doing well, the team usually follows. Bradley’s goal is a key takeaway on link up play, and means he is perhaps on his way to bagging more goals in the upcoming games.
New York returns to action at home on March 25th to face Real Salt Lake.
28′ Sounders: Clint Dempsey, penalty
57′ RBNY: Bradley Wright-Phillips, assisted by Sal Zizzo
66′ Sounders: Jordan Morris, assisted by Nicolas Lodeiro
79′ Sounders: Harry Shipp, assisted by Joevin Jones
25′ RBNY: Felipe, yellow
28′ RBNY: Robles, yellow
31′ RBNY: Gulbrandsen, yellow
62′ RBNY: Wright-Phillips, yellow
78′ Sounders: Dempsey, yellow
90′ Sounders: Fernandez, yellow
Sounders: Frei, Jones, Marshall, Svensson, Fisher (65′ Fernandez), Roldan, Alonso, Shipp, Dempsey (90′ Wingo), Lodeiro, Morris (81′ Bruin)
RBNY: Robles, Bilyeu, Long, Perrinelle, Zizzo, Davis (74′ Etienne), Felipe, Kljestan, Royer (81′ Muyl), Wright-Phillips, Gulbrandsen (57′ Grella)