Colombian wunderkind Fredy Montero scored two goals and created a third as Seattle pummeled New York, 3-0, amid a raucous celebration at Qwest Field Thursday in its MLS debut. The 32,523 green-and-blue fans who attended bombarded the jittery, sloppy Red Bulls with cheers, chants, songs and yells and celebrated lustily as the score and excitement mounted.
Playing up top with Nate Jaqua, Montero befuddled the Red Bulls with quick turns, clever flicks, and audacious dribbles. His finishing -- forged by two seasons as top scorer in the Colombian league playing for Deportivo Cali -- put most MLS players, regardless of their experience and accomplishments, to shame. For one night, compatriot Juan Pablo Angel seemed inept in comparison.
(A week before the opener, San Jose goalie Joe Cannon, whose team faced the Sounders and Montero in preseason had said, 'He's good, man. If I had a fantasy team, I'd put him on it."
Good call, Joe.)
Abysmal marking left Montero alone to stroke a low shot past Danny Cepero in the 12th minute and allowed Brad Evans to take a Montero pass and waltz through the left side to stick a shot between the keeper's ankles 13 minutes later. When a terrible flub by Mike Petke presented Montero a chance with 15 minutes to play, he cruised into the box, deked Cepero to the turf, and tapped a shot into the top corner. Nicely done, son! (He's 21.)
A one-man show Seattle's romp was not. Evans and Cuban Oswaldo Alonso controlled central midfield, the Sounders flank players denied Red Bulls wingers Dane Richards and Danleigh Borman much time or space, and Seattle center backs Tyrone Marshall and Jhon Hurtado crisply swept up errant passes and abundant mis-traps.
Only twice was keeper Kasey Keller called upon for real saves. New York carved out a pair of chances around the 70-minute mark and Keller repelled both emphatically, though both shots were hit right to him. Macoumba Kandji muscled past James Riley to hit a rising shot that Keller alertly punched away, and soon thereafter a partial clearance dropped for Jorge Rojas to volley a dipping shot that appeared to slightly confuse Keller, but he got enough of his wrist on the ball to flail it over the bar. A few times Keller came out to confidently catch the rare cross New York managed to launch into the goalmouth.
Red Bulls coach Juan Carlos Osorio fielded both of his returning South African midseason acquisitions, and both Rojas and Juan Pietravallo floundered for most of the match. Holding the ball proved nearly impossible, and with Angel stranded without much service, the disjointed midfield and creaky back line faced attack after attack. Cepero bailed out his team with a diving save at the near post of a shot hit by substitute Steve Zakuani, the No. 1 pick in this year's SuperDraft, just minutes after he entered the match.
On this spectacular night, every decision made by Seattle coach Sigi Schmid fit the moment, never more so than when he subbed Montero to a standing ovation in the final seconds, a fitting conclusion to a debut that couldn't have turned out better, for the player, his teammates, their coach, their officials, and their fans.
Red Bull fans can only take solace in that their team can't play much worse, and reinforcements are on the way -- the signing of Costa Rican Carlos Johnson was announced Thursday. They can't arrive too soon.
March 19 in Seattle
Seattle 3 New York 0. Goals: Montero (Le Toux, Alonso) 12, Evans 1 (Montero) 25, Montero 75.
New York -- Cepero, Boyens (Hall 34), Mendes, Petke, Goldthwaite, Richards, Pietravallo, Rojas, Ubiparipovic (Borman 46), Kandji, Angel.
Seattle -- Keller, Riley, Hurtado, Marshall, Scott, Nyassi (Zakuani 68), Alonso, Evans, Le Toux, Montero (Levesque 89), Jaqua.
Yellow cards: Seattle -- Alonso 13, Hurtado 32, Nyassi 67; New York -- Goldthwaite 21.
Referee: Jair Marrufo.