Three of the top nine goal-scorers in Major League Soccer will be on the pitch today when Sounders FC visits the New York Red Bulls.
New York’s Kenny Cooper went into the weekend second in the league with 11 goals, and Thierry Henry was tied for fourth with nine.
One goal behind him is Seattle forward Eddie Johnson, who has surged up the MLS goal-scoring chart with five goals in his past six league games.
“If you look at the last couple of goals: his athleticism, his ability to get up in the air, his hang time, his ability to put those headers away is there,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “He’s an impulsive guy – that’s the way he is. But he’s worked hard. He’s been good off the field for us, in the locker room. The things that he’s done in terms of his professionalism and his athleticism on the field helps us.”
Johnson came to Seattle in an offseason trade that sent Lamar Neagle and Mike Fucito to Montreal.
Four of his eight goals – and two of his past three – have come on headers of crosses from teammate Mauro Rosales.
“I’ve always been a good header of the ball,” Johnson said. “The timing (is improving from) playing week in and week out with certain individuals – and that’s Mauro, to be exact. I know when he gets the ball out wide, there’s only one place he’s going to put the ball: He’s going to put it in the box, and I’m just trying to get in a good spot to where I can get a foot on it or get a head on it. And fortunately it’s been going to my head, and I’ve got a pretty good jump.”
Meanwhile, the Red Bulls added to their goal-scoring arsenal Friday by acquiring former Sounder forward/midfielder Sebastien Le Toux from Vancouver in exchange for midfielder Dane Richards and allocation money.
Le Toux had four goals and one assist this season with the Whitecaps. He had 26 goals over his previous three seasons with Seattle and Philadelphia. In 2010, he was named to the All-Star team and MLS Best XI.
“Sebastien is one of the premier attacking players in the league and someone who we have admired for a long time,” Red Bulls general manager and sporting director Erik Soler said in a club press release. “He will be able to play a number of different positions and will be an important piece for us as we challenge for the MLS Cup this year.”
CHELSEA REVEALS TOUR ROSTER
Chelsea FC announced the roster for its United States tour, which begins Wednesday against Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field.
The Sounders announced last week that about 49,000 tickets have been distributed for that match.
The Chelsea roster: Goalkeepers: Petr Cech, Henrique Hilario, Ross Turnbull, Jamal Blackman. Defenders: Branislav Ivanovic, Ashley Cole, John Terry, David Luiz, Paulo Ferreira, Gary Cahill, Sam Hutchinson, Todd Kane, Nathaniel Chalobah. Midfielders: Michael Essien, Ramires, Flourent Malouda, Raul Meireles, Frank Lampard, John Mikel Obi, Eden Hazard, Marko Marin, Yossi Benayoun, Josh McEachran, George Saville. Forwards: Romelu Lukaku, Fernando Torres, Gael Kakuta, Kevin De Bruyne, Patrick Bamford, Lucas Piazon.
Chelsea also will provide the opposition for the MLS All-Stars on July 25 at PPL Park in Chester, Penn.
The First XI stars were voted in by the fans, and the remainder of the 18-man MLS game-day roster will be announced today at halftime of the Sounders-Red Bulls broadcast on ESPN.
SOUNDERS FC (8-5-6; 30 POINTS) AT NEW YORK RED BULLS (9-5-4, 31)
1 p.m.; Red Bulls Arena; Harrison, N.J.
TV: ESPN. RADIO: 97.3-FM, 99.3 (Spanish).
CLUB LEADERS: For Seattle – G 8, Eddie Johnson; A 6, Mauro Rosales; S 73, Fredy Montero; SOG 26, Montero; GAA 0.46, Michael Gspurning. For New York – G 11, Kenny Cooper; A5, Thierry Henry; S 46, Henry; SOG 26, Henry. GAA 1.50, Ryan Meara.
HEAD TO HEAD: Seattle leads, 3-2-1 overall; Red Bulls lead 2-1 at home. This is the teams’ only meeting of this MLS regular season.
NOTES: The match concludes Seattle’s regular-season play against Eastern Conference clubs. ... Gspurning (hip) made the trip and could return to action for the first time since May 2. ... The Red Bulls are 5-0-2 at home, Seattle 2-2-5 on the road. ... New York traded Dane Richards to Vancouver last week in exchange for former Sounder Sebastien Le Toux, who is available today. ... New York is third in MLS in average goals scored (1.78); Seattle is second in average goals allowed (1). ... The Red Bulls are 1-2-2 over their last five games, while the Sounders are 1-1-3. ... Defender Jeff Parke came to Seattle after being made available by New York in the expansion draft. ... Henry and Red Bulls defender Heath Pearce were named to the MLS All-Star First XI last week. Pearce will miss this game with a hamstring injury. ... The remainder of the 18-man game-day All-Star roster will be announced at halftime. ... Johnson and Montero are one yellow card away from a game suspension for accumulation. ... The referee is Jorge Gonzalez.
QUOTABLE: “Henry and Cooper have been very goal-dangerous up front. ... You can never relax with them because they’re a pretty good ball-possession team, they’re pretty good at opening spaces up, and obviously they’ve got guys who can finish.” – Sounders coach Sigi Schmid on the Red Bulls.
NEXT: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday against Chelsea FC, CenturyLink Field. The Sounders return to MLS play July 28 at Colorado.email@example.com 253-597-8808 blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt firstname.lastname@example.org