After suffering their second loss in an upset at the hands of the Philadelphia Union, the Red Bulls will need to improve on last week's performance if they are to take all three points in Seattle.
Conceding two goals in a five-minute span, the Red Bulls gave up their first loss ever against the Union. Despite owning the lion's share of possession with 65.5%, Jesse Marsch's team was unable to turn any of their possession into goals. They hit the post twice, thanks to efforts from Mike Grella and Felipe Martins, but there were plenty of missed opportunities for the Red Bulls to take the lead in a match that was considered winnable for New York.
<script height="720px" width="1280px" src="http://player.ooyala.com/iframe.js#pbid=b02289cc4c6a4ad693869ae1a0b037a1&ec=QxbWw5dTpIQGtoPq3XEH0VJbSRWaft08"></script>
Just as disappointing was the fact that it was the second consecutive game in which the Red Bulls have been shut out. The Union were missing defensive centerpieces Ray Gaddis and Maurice Edu, in addition to having the most porous defense in MLS (21 goals conceded).
This week, it's back to the drawing board for Jesse Marsch. Jim Curtin was able to emphatically expose the weaknesses of the high pressure system implemented by Marsch, with the insertion of C.J. Sapong allowing Philly to better exploit the space behind the overlapping full backs. It seems that the word is out on how to beat the Red Bulls. Perhaps a change of tactics is in order.
Seattle pose an entirely different threat to the high pressure system that Marsch is so fond of. With Obafemi Martins (tibial contusion) returning to training earlier this week, Seattle possess a more skilled stable of forwards than the Union, including Clint Dempsey and Chad Barrett.
<script height="720px" width="1280px" src="http://player.ooyala.com/iframe.js#pbid=b02289cc4c6a4ad693869ae1a0b037a1&ec=xqOXJjdTqJVklCcxltSTPokgwKE9uFV5"></script>
Whereas Philly opted to strike on the counter and take advantage of giveaways in bad spots, the Sounders are more likely to employ an approach similar to that of the Red Bulls. That is, by possessing the ball. Sigi Schmid likes to attack the full backs a lot as well, so this could create problems for the Red Bulls especially if Chris Duvall or Kemar Lawrence is caught out of position.
The Sounders are also leading the Supporters' Shield race, with 23 points to their name. The Red Bulls are currently lost in the middle of the pack, at ninth place. While it is still early in the season, it is telling that Seattle was able to leapfrog both F.C. Dallas and the Vancouver Whitecaps with a game in hand.
Who To Watch
Seattle: Obafemi Martins. The former Newcastle forward has proven to be a human highlight reel so far this season. When Oba gets going, so does Seattle. His chemistry with Clint Dempsey could cause problems for whoever starts at center back for New York, be it a returning Damien Perinelle or Karl Ouimette.
RBNY: Lloyd Sam. Last week's game was definitely not Sam's best one in a Red Bulls shirt. The Englishman found himself tucked in quite a bit, although he enjoyed more success when he drifted back out wide. It'll be interesting to see how he bounces back from his performance against Philly.
- Seattle is unbeaten in their last 4 MLS matches at CenturyLink Field.
- The Red Bulls have not scored in their last two MLS matches.
- The Sounders are tied for second in goals scored, with 18, despite having played one less game than the other two teams (New England, F.C. Dallas).