I have to be honest. I was looking forward to this visit by the New York Red Bulls to Seattle yesterday because Thierry Henry is one of my all-time favorite players. As a hardcore Arsenal fan, how could he not be?
So I was a little disappointed to find out Henry wouldn’t be playing, as he was serving a red card suspension for this match. On the other hand, that made it easier for me to watch the match since I wouldn’t have to feel badly about being happy if Henry did well against my Sounders.
When it was announced that Manchester United was coming to play Seattle in July this season in a friendly match, the Sounders put together a ticket package that included opening more of Seattle’s stadium for the Red Bulls match. Because of that, over 46,000 screaming fans, a league match record for the Sounders, on a Thursday night (June 23, 2011) filled the former Qwest Field.
I say former because Qwest has changed to CenturyLink so now people want to call it Clink Field. Let me just put it on record that I think that is the stupidest fucking name ever for a stadium.
The fans saw a great match too as Seattle scored their quickest ever goal, in 11 minutes, when Erik Friberg took the ball from just outside the penalty area, cut back to lose the defender, before neatly curling it in the far post for his first Sounders goal.
Less than two minutes later, Osvaldo Alonso scored goal from the opposite side, as the midfielder rebounded a short clearance that ricocheted before hitting the back of the net for his second goal of the season.
Delirious fans staked to an early 2-0 lead after so many draws and 1-0 matches this year could be forgiven for celebrating early and loudly. The party lasted until New York made the inevitable comeback starting in the 31st minute.
That’s when Dane Richards hit a shot that Kasey Keller was able to deflect but not enough as the ball went wide and high into the corner of the net.
Despite being down 2-1 at the half, the goal gave NY some sense of confidence as much as it seemed to take the crowd down a notch.
The nervous Nellies in the stands were really wailing in the 58th minute as Jan Gunnar Solli attacked down the right side of the field and fired in a low cross that deflected off defender Zach Scott and into the net. That was listed as an own goal on the stat sheet and a tie game on the scoreboard.
What was a festival now had the normal Sounders stomach knot feel to it as New York appeared to have the momentum.
Roger Levesque, one of the most hated Sounders according to Portland, came on as a substitute for Mike Fucito in the 58th minute. In the 67th minute that move paid off as Levesque flicked in a cross from Leo Gonzales with his head to give Seattle the lead again.
With the crown not quite feeling safe yet, Levesque then pulled off a play rarely seen anywhere outside of the Pee Wee League. He intercepted a monumentally bad back pass from NY keeper Greg Sutton in the 78th minute to score again, giving Seattle three solid points and showing off his new celebration,the Scuba Diver.
Man of the Match:
It has to be the pirate himself, Roger Levesque. He’s described as the hardest working player on the team and against NY, that hard work paid off nicely for the Sounders.
The win takes Seattle to 28 points and a 7-4-7 record. That ties the Sounders for second place in the West with FC Dallas.
Seattle welcomes the New England Revolution to Seattle on Sunday afternoon and tries to keep their June an unbeaten one.
Photo credit: JOEL HAWKSLEY / THE SEATTLE TIMES