HARRISON – The new-look New York Red Bulls unveiled their two newest acquisitions Sunday afternoon against the Seattle Sounders at Red Bull Arena and both were thrown into the heat of the action right away, just two days after being sent to RBNY in separate deals.
Former MLS All-Star Sebastien Le Toux, acquired in a trade with Vancouver Friday for Dane Richards, scored a goal in his first game as a Red Bull. Bill Gaudette, acquired in a deal with the Los Angeles Galaxy, also on Friday, after it was learned that rookie net minder Ryan Meara might miss time with a hip injury, was the starting goalie for RBNY.
But the Red Bulls could only muster a 2-2 tie with the Sounders, beginning their three-game home stand with a one-point effort instead of three.
It capped a whirlwind 48-hour period for Le Toux, who had to fly clear across the country to arrive in time for Sunday’s game.
“The last two days have gone by so fast that I didn’t even have a chance to think about it,” said LeToux, an MLS All-Star performer last year for Philadelphia. “My mind was really off. It was pretty crazy, but it felt good to get a goal in my new uniform. It would have been nice to get the win. I feel pretty lucky to be with this team now.”
The trade for Le Toux means that RBNY will more than likely utilize a three-forward attack from here on, with Le Toux joining Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper up front.
“I think with more balance in the midfield, it’s possible that it will work,” Red Bulls head coach pHans Backe said. “But we need more box-to-box play in the midfield to keep them out there.”
Le Toux, who scored 25 goals in two seasons with Philadelphia, likes the idea of playing with both Henry and Cooper.
“To get the chance to play with top players is great for me,” Le Toux said. “I think we’re going to be able to make progress with them in the future. When I was younger, I used to watch Henry play in France. He’s a great guy and a great player.”
Seattle got on the scoreboard first in the 16th minute, when Johansson made a perfect crossing pass from 45 yards out to a sliding Alvaro Fernandez, who pushed the ball past Gaudette for a 1-0 lead. Johansson’s left footed cross from the right sideline went over the head of Red Bull defender Brandon Barklage directly to Fernandez’s right foot.
The Red Bulls then tied the score in the 24th minute, with the team’s other new acquisition, Le Toux, making his presence felt right away.
Kenny Cooper unleashed a wicked blast from just outside the penalty area that Seattle net minder Bryan Meredith stopped, but Le Toux alertly followed and kicked it home for his fifth goal of the season and his first with his new team.
“Kenny got off a pretty strong shot,” LeToux said. “I knew that if the keeper didn’t get it, I had a chance to get to it. I was lucky to have the rebound come to my direction and I put it in the back of the net.”
Gaudette made a brilliant save in the 31st minute, making a diving one-handed save on a shot from Eddie Johnson.
The Red Bulls had a chance to take the lead right before halftime, when Henry’s corner kick was headed by Markus Holgersson, but the attempt clanked off the crossbar as time expired in the first half, keeping the match tied at 1-1.
“I should have scored on that one,” Holgersson said. “There’s no excuse there. It was a perfect pass.”
Red Bulls defender Rafa Marquez went out of action with what was determined to be a left calf injury.
Marquez, who has played in just eight of the Red Bulls’ 19 games this season due to either suspensions or injuries, left the game in the 21st minute and was replaced by Wilman Conde. The Mexican national, signed to a multi-million contract in 2010, walked off the field and headed straight to the team’s locker room.
Marquez missed games June 17 and June 20 with a right thigh injury, returned to play June 24, then missed the last two games with the same calf problem that took him out of Sunday’s match. Marquez has also sat out five games this season due to two separate league suspensions, one a carryover from last year’s playoffs and another a three-game suspension in April for rough play. Marquez has not scored a goal and has only two assists in eight games.
Holgersson knew that Marquez wasn’t right from the start.
“He was a little slow getting to the ball and we really didn’t find our positions back there,” Holgersson said. “That’s what led to their first goal.”
The Red Bulls played without defender/midfielder Jan Gunnar Solli and All-Star defender Heath Pearce, both out of action with hamstring injuries. Rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara missed his first game of the season after starting the first 18 matches. Meara was out with an apparent hip injury, forcing the team to trade with the Los Angeles Galaxy to acquire goalie Gaudette, who started in goal Sunday.
The Red Bulls had the better scoring chances in the early going of the second half and in fact took a 2-1 lead. After Henry was stopped on a direct free kick attempt in the 49th minute and rookie Connor Lade just missed on a left-footed shot in the 52nd minute, the Red Bulls jumped in front on a fine play from Lindpere.
Lindpere took a feed from Barklage, then faked out former Red Bulls defender Jeff Parke to unleash a left-footed blast from 25 yards out in the 61st minute to give New York a 2-1 lead.
The Red Bulls had a great scoring chance in the 74th minute, when Dax McCarty’s header off a Henry corner kick beat Meredith, but an alert Johansson was standing on the goal line to kick the shot aside.
Red Bulls coach Hans Backe was pleased with the effort, but disappointed with the result.
“We made it too easy for them,” Backe said. “We gave them too many chances in the second half after we took the lead.”
The game was the first of three straight at Red Bull Arena. They play a rare Wednesday afternoon game against Chicago, with kickoff at 1 p.m. With the temperatures expected in the 90s, it’s a starting time that does not please Backe.
“I’ve questioned that starting time since I saw the schedule in February,” Backe said. “It shouldn’t be allowed to play 1 p.m. with the temperature around 96-to-98 degrees. You can’t play for 90 minutes in conditions like that.”
“Wednesday, maybe we can pray for rain or something,” Lade said.
“The weather was awful today,” Holgersson said. “It’s going to be crazy Wednesday. We have to take it a little easy out there. The game will be a little slow.”