HARRISON, NJ -- It is never easy to win on the road in Major League Soccer. For the Sounders FC, though, they may not come tougher than their improbable 1-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena Saturday night.
Fredy Montero came off the bench to score his third goal of the season in the 85th minute and Kasey Keller kept the Red Bulls at bay for his third clean sheet of the year as the Sounders picked up their first road victory of the 2010 season.
“It was a huge win,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “We talked about needing to fight and battle and play to zero all week. The guys came out and put on a great performance from that aspect.”
After going 0-2-2 in their previous four games, Seattle came into the game with a bit of desperation and when the final whistle blew after five minutes of stoppage time, it was an emotional outpouring from the Sounders.
“It’s always good to get a result like that, especially away. A very physical match. It was something we focused on in practice. We knew they were going to play physical at home, so I think our practices reflected the way that we were going to play and what we expected as well,” said Brad Evans, who started as center forward and set up Montero’s game-winner. “A good turn-around and an inspirational win from front to back.”
The two teams battled back and forth through most of the first 84 minutes with only a Sanna Nyassi shot on an open goal threatening to break open the scoreless match. Then Montero, a 77th minute sub, took a ball from Evans and knocked it from his chest to his thigh to his right foot before depositing it in the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.
The play came off of a quick restart when New York was called for a foul against the sideline. Tyrone Marshall quickly played the free kick to Brad Evans at the edge of the midfield. He then lofted the ball to Montero who fought with all he could muster to put it away in the 85th minute.
“To come in late and score and give three points to the team is incredible,” Montero said. “It was an incredible assist from Brad Evans. He stopped the ball with his chest and passed it perfectly and I went to the first post. To be able to score and stop my scoreless streak and feel the confidence of my teammates is incredible.”
The Sounders then held on through five minutes of stoppage time to seal the victory.
The match was an absolute battle with neither team generating much in the realm of scoring chances, but hammering back and forth between the boxes.
Seattle were the early aggressors, getting the ball into New York’s end in the opening minute, but it wasn’t until the second half when New York goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul misplayed a ball at the top of the box and left an opening for Nyassi. The speedy Nyassi got his left foot on the ball and sent it ambling toward the goal, but Danleigh Borman slid in at the last second and knocked it away with a remarkable save to keep the game scoreless.
In the 63rd minute, Keller made his only save on the night, though there were other instances that he had to clean up and organize to keep the ball clear from danger. Second-half substitute Brian Nielsen shot from 22 yards out with a left-footed blast that forced Keller to dive to his right to come up with the game-saving stop.
Then Montero entered in the 78th minute and came up with the dramatic game-winner.
“I’m sure Fredy wasn’t happy sitting on the bench and it’s not a secret, he wants to be out on the field he wants to play. But I think he came in and he battled and he fought right away. And he has that ability, that little bit of skill, that little bit of calm at the key moment and he finished a great goal. It was a great ball by Brad and a great goal,” Schmid said. “I’m very happy for Fredy.”
The Sounders (3-3-3, 12 points) moved into sixth in the Western Conference, just one point away from second behind the LA Galaxy. The Red Bulls fall to 5-3-0 with their first ever loss at Red Bull Arena.
Seattle will host the San Jose Earthquakes Saturday at Qwest Field.
Sounders FC - Fredy Montero (Brad Evans) 85
Red Bulls - None
Sounders FC - Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyrone Marshall, Leo Gonzalez, Patrick Ianni, Peter Vagenas (Nathan Sturgis 65), Freddie Ljungberg, Sanna Nyassi (Fredy Montero 78), Brad Evans (Pat Noonan 89), Steve Zakuani.
Red Bulls - Bouna Coundoul, Jeremy Hall, Mike Petke, Tim Ream, Danleigh Borman, Dane Richards (Sinisa Ubiparipovic 56), Carl Robinson (Tony Tchani 87), Joel Lindpere, Seth Stammler, Salou Ibrahim (Brian Nielsen 52), Juan Pablo Angel.