The New York Red Bulls kick off the 2011 MLS (Major League Soccer) season with a 1-0 win over visiting Seattle Sounders at Red Bull Arena Saturday night. A crowd of more than 20,000 watched as teenaged forward Juan Agudelo muscled his way past two Sounders defender and beat Seattle’s goalkeeper Kasey Keller to his right for the only score of the night and his first in MLS, in the 70th minute.
Agudelo scored when he received a long pass from newly acquired midfielder Teemu Tainio and outraced and out-muscled the Seattle defense. The loss was Seattle’s second in as many games as the Sounders went down, 1-0, to the Los Angeles Galaxy at home in the league opener last Thursday night at Seattle’s Qwest Field.
New York pretty much owned the first half and in one of its forays on goal in the very early goings, Sounders defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado brought down Agudelo in the penalty area to give the Red Bulls a penalty kick and their first opportunity to lead in the game. Captain Thierry Henry’s shot was saved by Keller as the keeper dove to his right.
Keller’s effort put some life into Seattle and the visitors closed out the scoreless first half with most of the possession. Seattle’s Fredy Montero had the best opportunity for his team in the first half when he found himself inside the six yard box on the right side of the net, but he blasted the ball into the outside of the net. Red Bulls goalkeeper Greg Sutton was forced to make most of his seven saves in the first half.
New York used substitute Tony Tchani in the second half and the second-year midfielder out of University of Virginia almost made doubled the lead were it not for Keller acrobatic save in tapping Tchani’s header from a corner kick over the cross bar. In the closing moments, Seattle had a chance to tie the game in the dying moments when Sutton spilled a shot from Montero and the ball spun to the feet of Seattle forward Lamar Neagle inside the six yard box, but the rookie forward shot high over the crossbar. The Red Bulls play the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium on Saturday, March 26 at 4:00 p.m., and then return home for a game with the Houston Dynamo at Red Bull Arena on Saturday, April 2 at 7:30 p.m.
Davies Is Back
Charlie Davies continues to make a remarkable return to professional soccer. The U.S. national team forward missed the last World Cup because of a near fatal one-car accident in the Washington D.C. area 17 months ago which resulted in the death of a passenger in the car. Davies got a chance to re-start his soccer career, after a number of surgeries, with DC United and he is paying off with goals. Davies converted a penalty in the 63rd-minute and added a second goal in the 77th minute to help D.C. United defeat the Columbus Crew, 3-1, on Saturday in the league’s first week of play. Josh Wolff scored the first United goal; Robbie Rogers scored in the 79th minute from a penalty kick for Columbus.
In other MLS contests, Omar Cummings scored a goal and assisted on a second as the defending MLS champion Colorado Rapids came away with a 3-1 victory over the expansion team Portland Timbers. Cummings became the first player in MLS history to score a goal in four consecutive season openers. Jeff Larentowicz and Jamie Smith also scored for Colorado.
Kenny Cooper scored the first goal for Portland in the 80th minute of its inaugural match. The goal came on a free kick and denied Matt Pickens of his 26th career shutout. The other expansion team fared better as the Vancouver White Caps defeated Toronto FC, 4-2. Real Salt Lake knocked off San Jose, 1-0; Philadelphia also got off to a good start with a 1-0 win over Houston Dynamo; Kansas City beat Chivas USA, 3-2; and FC Dallas and Chicago Fire played to a 1-1 draw.
Mexico Kicks Off U-20s
Six-time champion Mexico will kick off the 12-team CONCACAF Under-20 Championship in Guatemala City on Monday, March 28; the tournament concludes on April 10 and will determine the four top teams in CONCACAF to qualify for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Colombia, July 29 through Aug. 20, 2011.
Mexico will play Cuba in the nightcap of the opening day doubleheader, while Canada and Guadeloupe will kick off the doubleheader. On the second day’s play on Wednesday, March 30, Suriname will take on the United States and host Guatemala will play Jamaica in the nightcap.
Also on Wednesday, March 30, defending champion Costa Rica will Guadeloupe, followed by Trinidad and Tobago against Caribbean rival Cuba. Crossover quarterfinals will be start April 5, with the winner of Group C facing the runner-up from Group D and vice versa. Likewise, the winners of Groups A and B will play their counterpart runners-up the following day. The semifinals are scheduled for April 8 with the championship and third-place game on April 10.
CONCACAF Under-20 Championship
At Guatemala City
Times U.S. Eastern (local time in parentheses)
Group A: Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica
Group B: United States, Panama, Suriname
Group C: Canada, Costa Rica, Guadeloupe
Group D: Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago, Cuba
Monday, March 28
Canada vs. Guadeloupe, 8 p.m. (6 p.m.)
Cuba vs. Mexico, 10:00 p.m. (8:00 p.m.)
Tuesday, March 29
Suriname vs. United States, 8:00 p.m. (6:00 p.m.)
Guatemala vs. Jamaica, 10 p.m. (8:00 p.m.)
Wednesday, March 30
Guadeloupe vs. Costa Rica, 8:00 p.m. (6:00 p.m.)
Trinidad & Tobago vs. Cuba, 10:00 p.m. (8:00 p.m.)
Thursday, March 31
Panama vs. Suriname, 8:00 p.m. (6:00 p.m.)
Honduras vs. Jamaica, 10:00 p.m. (8:00 p.m.)
Friday, April 1
Costa Rica vs. Canada, 8:00 p.m. (6:00 p.m.)
Mexico vs. Trinidad & Tobago, 10:00 p.m. (8:00 p.m.)
Saturday, April 2
United States vs. Panama, 6:00 p.m. (4:00 p.m.)
Guatemala vs. Honduras, 8:00 p.m. (6:00 p.m.)
Tuesday, April 5
QF1: Group C winner vs. Group D runner-up, 7:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m.)
QF2: Group D winner vs. Group C runner-up, 10:00 p.m. (8 p.m.)
Wednesday, April 6
QF3: Group B winner vs. Group A runner-up, 7:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m.)
QF4: Group A winner vs. Group B runner-up, 10:00 p.m. (8:00 p.m.)
Friday, April 8
Quarterfinal 1 winner vs. Quarterfinal 2 winner, 4:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m.)
Quarterfinal 3 winner vs. Quarterfinal 4 winner, 7:00 p.m. (5:00 p.m.)
Sunday, April 10
Semifinal losers, 3:00 p.m. (1 p.m.)
Semifinal winners, 5:30 p.m. (3:30 p.m.)