Competition: Major League Soccer – Seattle Sounders vs. New York Red Bulls
Venue: CenturyLink Field – Sunday, March 19 – 19:00 ET (23:00 GMT – Live on Sky Sports)
Match Odds: Seattle 6/5 – Draw 23/10 – NY Red Bulls 21/10
Seattle Sounders welcome New York Red Bulls to CenturyLink Field for the 2016 MLS Cup champions’ home opener in Sunday’s only MLS fixture.
The Sounders will be relieved to be coming home after taking just one point from their first two games of the new season. They fell 2-1 at Houston before a dramatic last-minute Will Bruin goal earned them a 2-2 draw at Montreal last Saturday.
Their attacking play of Nicolas Lodeiro and Jordan Morris, which destroyed defences on their way to MLS Cup last season, has yet to really get going in 2017. We’re only two games in but they must start to click again if Seattle are to challenge at the right end of the Western Conference this term.
Seattle head coach Brian Schmetzer will also be concerned with the fact his defence have conceded four goals in two matches. They will be without Roman Torres on Sunday as the defender has been hit with a suspension and so they may be vulnerable once again.
The Red Bulls are the only Eastern Conference side to have won both of their opening games this season and they’ve done so without getting out of first gear.
Jesse Marsch’s side are still adapting to life without Dax McCarty in midfield but they have managed to beat Atlanta and Colorado and are already in a strong position at this early stage.
Last Saturday’s 1-0 win over the Rapids wasn’t pretty and won’t live long in the memories of the Red Bulls’ fans but they got the result they needed. They now know they are in for a real test if they are to make it three from three this weekend.Embed from Getty Images
These two couldn’t be more closely matched in terms of previous meetings. The series stands at 4-3-4 with 15 goals each. However, the Red Bulls have only won one of their five trips to CenturyLink Field and that came back in 2010.
Seattle will have to cope without central defender Roman Torres, who has been handed a one-game suspension for violent conduct in last weekend’s draw in Montreal. Brad Evans is the Sounders’ only injury absentee and will miss out again.
The New York Red Bulls have two played sidelined as Connor Lade remains out with a torn ACL, while Gonzalo Veron is struggling with a hamstring problem.
Seattle Sounders’ form: L/D
New York Red Bulls’ form: W/W
Key Stat: The Red Bulls are unbeaten in their last eight MLS away games (3W 5D). This is their longest away unbeaten run in their MLS regular season history.
Key Player: Clint Dempsey – The Sounders star scored on his return to action on opening weekend and will be relishing the chance to walkout at CenturyLink Field in front of the Seattle fans on Sunday. He has always thrived on home turf and will look to cause the Red Bulls problems from start to finish.
Seattle Sounders 2-2 NY Red Bulls – Both sides will expect to score in what should be an exciting battle on Sunday night. The Sounders will be relishing the chance to come out in front of the home crowd for the first time in 2017 and know they are expected to get their first three points of the season. But they have looked vulnerable at the back and the likes of Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sacha Kljestan will look to keep the visitors 100% record intact if they can. Score draw.