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Bulls poised to spoil Seattle's opener
by Ridge Mahoney, March 19th, 2009 7AM



Journalists really shouldn't make game predictions public, since objectivity is a prerequisite to doing the job properly, and there's nothing neutral about sticking your neck out declaring this team or that team -- or in the case of soccer, neither team - is going to win.

And journalists, like everybody else, would rather be right, especially when a declaration is out there for all to see. Naturally competitive and driven to not only get a story right but get it first, journalists are prone to lose that objectivity if a coach or player or referee has erred and thus has placed said prediction in jeopardy, if not flushed it down the toilet straightaway.

However, pundits and commentators and bloggers and just about everyone else make forecasts all the time, for fun if not profit, and so in that spirit is submitted a prediction that New York will beat Seattle, 2-1, in the MLS 2009 season opener Thursday at Qwest Field.

The Red Bulls play on their own FieldTurf surface, so adjusting to that used by the NFL Seahawks as well as the Sounders shouldn't be a major issue. New York features the blazing speed of Dane Richards, who is usually more dangerous on the fake stuff, and striker Juan Pablo Angel, who while scoring 33 goals in his first two MLS seasons has shown the guile and skill to score on grass, turf, laminated flooring, paper towels, you name it.

They are on the road, so what? They reached MLS Cup last year by winning in two of the toughest venues; Robertson Stadium (Houston) and Rio Tinto Stadium (Salt Lake City). True, they needed remarkable games from keeper Danny Cepero and lots of help from the goalposts to win those games, but they shouldn't require nearly so much good fortune to defeat a team-in-progress.

A crowd of 30,000 will surely blast the Red Bulls with noise and roar on the Sounders, likely to come out fired up but not firing on all cylinders. Coach Sigi Schmid has stocked his squad with some proven MLS veterans and the cream of Seattle's USL-1 entry as well as goalie Kasey Keller and talented Colombian forward Fredy Montero. Seattle has a reasonable chance to seriously challenge for a playoff spot as the season winds down.

That will be then, but this is now. The occasion may just rattle the Sounders enough to create the breakdowns and miscommunications New York needs to win on the road. A tie is a far safer pick, and there may be more than three goals (let's hope for at least that many), but on the first night of the 2009 season, the Red Bulls rule.

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