Expecting to contend for the 2011 MLS Cup, last year's Eastern Conference regular season winners kicked off the 2011 MLS season with a 1-0 win over the Seattle Sounders at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.
The Red Bull Arena's boisterous crowd in the South Ward section, and the rest of the 20,982 fans, were given a preview of how dangerous the New York Red Bulls will be once they're in sync and running all cylinders. They witnessed moments of brilliance when Thierry Henry was "shaking and baking" his defenders as he passed the ball to his teammates.
They cheered approvingly of the potential and game awareness of Juan Agudelo, as he beat two defenders to accept a 50-yard pass from Teemu Tainio. This led to Agudelo's first MLS goal in the 71st minute of the game. With his world-class finish, many have to wonder how many goals Agudelo capable of scoring this season.
Not only was Agudelo's monumental goal important to the Red Bulls, it was also the first goal towards the team's "New York's Got Wings" campaign. For every goal the Red Bulls score this season, $1,000 in equipment and clinics will be donated to NYC Parks Youth Programs and New York soccer programs.
While the game result may appear to be a low-scoring affair, the Red Bulls demonstrated that their revamped and attacking offense possesses the potential firepower to score many more goals this season. For the game, the Red Bulls took 21 shots, seven shots on goal and 11 corner kicks while committing 10 fouls and being called once for offsides.
One huge reason why the Red Bulls weren't able to produce more goals was the superb goalkeeping of Seattle's Kasey Keller. Despite his team's loss, Keller demonstrated why he's one of MLS' elite goalkeepers as he blocked Henry's penalty kick in the ninth minute of the game while making six out of seven saves.
While Keller valiantly lost tonight, Red Bulls goalkeeper Greg Sutton recorded his first victory of the season. Despite his erratic play at times, Sutton was able to make seven saves. In addition, Sutton had help as the Red Bulls defense limited the Sounders to 10 shots and zero corner kicks.
However, during stoppage time, Sutton made his most important save when he blocked Freddy Montero's 30-yard strike. Despite his magnificent save, Sutton was unable to hold on to the ball. As a result, Lamar Neagle almost tied the game with a rebound. Fortunately for Sutton, the Red Bulls and everyone in attendance, Lamar Neagle's rebound attempt sailed over the crossbar instead of finding the net for the equalizer.
The New York Red Bulls are now 1-0-0 while the Seattle Sounders fall to 0-2-2. New York will now face the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium in hopes of a road win.
To see more of Bill Menzel's game photos please go this link.
Other MLS Results
In other MLS scores, the defending MLS champion Colorado Rapids ruined the MLS debut of the Portland Timbers with a 3-1 win. Also making their MLS debut, the Vancouver Whitecaps produced a 4-2 victory over Toronto FC at the Empire Field.
Also making his MLS debut was Charlie Davies, as he scored two goals in D.C. United's 3-1 victory over the Columbus Crew. Over at the Home Depot Center, visiting Sporting Kansas City ousted Chivas USA 3-2 thanks to Omar Bravo's two-goal performance.
Meanwhile, a pair of 1-0 road wins took place as the Philadelphia Union stunned the Houston Dynamo while Real Salt Lake did the same to the San Jose Earthquakes. The Chicago Fire stalemated FC Dallas 1-1 at the Pizza Hut Park.
Cesar Diaz covers soccer for Latino Sports. You may follow him on Facebook at Covering Soccer and at Twitter at @CoveringSoccer and @LatinoSports143. Please email your questions and comments to Cesar at email@example.com.