This recap was written by Rob Celletti, sitting in for Chris who was unavailable for tonight's game.
After last season's unmitigated disaster, most people around the New York Red Bulls felt that 2010 would bring some better days, but expectations were tempered, and with good reason. Tonight, however, may be the proof that this new, confident, organized version of the Red Bulls is for real.
New York earned a deserved, albeit nail-biting 1-0 victory over Seattle Sounders FC for their first road win in Major League Soccer regular season play since May of 2008.
Macoumba Kandji scored in the 22nd minute, and the Red Bulls played what is quickly becoming their trademark brand of soccer to see out the victory, withstanding waves of Seattle pressure. They possessed the ball well and passed it with confidence. When they didn't have the ball, they kept their shape, stayed compact and made it difficult for Seattle to develop chances through the middle. When called upon, Bouna Coundoul made some wonderfully athletic saves to keep his second straight clean sheet.
Head coach Hans Backe was a surprise omission from the game for New York, as he encountered a stomach ailment overnight and was ordered by doctors to remain at the team hotel as a precaution. Richie Williams stepped in and the Red Bulls did not appear to skip a beat.
The first 15 minutes of the match saw chances for both teams with Seattle's Brad Evans having the first crack at goal, forcing Coundoul to make a tough save diving low to his left. The end-to-end action was delightful to watch as both teams looked dangerous. Juan Pablo Angel forced Keller's hand with a direct strike on goal off of a free kick.
In the 22nd minute Mac Kandji gave the Red Bulls the lead they would not relinquish. Joel Lindpere sent a corner kick towards the back post, where it came off of Roy Miller battling a Sounders defender. Kandji, about 8 yards away, attacked the loose ball with a left-footed strike that went in off of the underside of the crossbar.
The rest of the first half was relatively even, although New York had to withstand a couple of flurries of Seattle pressure.
Seattle carried most of the action in the second half but fell victim to some poor finishing, although Coundoul did make a tremendous save on Steve Zakuani in the 69th minute. Still, both Tyrone Marshall and Freddie Ljungberg let free headers go wide and the Red Bulls back four was generally able to deal with most of what Seattle threw at them. New York also had one or two golden opportunities on counterattacks and were lucky that their poor finishing (particularly Dane Richards' missed chance in the 80th minute off of a brilliant Danleigh Borman feed) didn't come back to haunt them
The Once A Metro Man of the Match honors go to Mac Kandji. Sure, it's unimaginative to give it to the game-winning goalscorer, but Kandji looked as confident as he ever has partnering Juan Pablo Angel in the attack. He seems to finally have a grasp on the position and his spacing and touch were terrific all night. His goal was extremely well-taken.
The Red Bulls take their perfect record and 180-minute shutout streak to Los Angeles for a date with struggling Chivas USA next week. Chris will be back to offer some more thoughts and analysis on this week's victory over Seattle as well as to preview next Saturday's tilt with the Goats.