Preseason in Mexico:Day 6
Despite the fact that the Red Bulls’ MLS regular season schedule does not start for over a month, preseason provides players the opportunity to state their case for more playing time.
In last night’s penalty kick victory over Atlante FC, one player who made such a claim with his stellar play was goalkeeper Greg Sutton.
With last year’s number one goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul away on international duty with Senegal, Sutton stepped up and played the full 90 minutes, making a number of key saves. Sutton made a spectacular double save to deny Giancarlo Maldonado and stopped Moises Munoz’s potentially game-winning spot kick in the shootout.
“Any time I play, I’m trying to do my best to keep the team in it and put results on the board so that’s what I was brought in to do and that’s what I’m going to try to do,” Sutton said.
Sutton joined the club at the beginning of last season, but due to the team’s success defensively and Coundoul’s strong play, he was not able to see much time in the regular season. The Canadian and former Toronto FC player featured in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matches and started in two MLS games, both of which he performed well in.
While Coundoul may have a leg up in the competition heading into the year, the Red Bulls, coming off winning the Eastern Conference regular season championship, are deeper and more competitive at every position. This includes the goalkeeping position.
“He will compete with the other goalies and have the same possibilities and chances as those ones,” said Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe. “We will see now – they will probably get one game each in the preseason, but he’s close to being the first goalie for us.
Sutton will continue to have the opportunity to show the coaches what he can do, as Coundoul will not join the team in Mexico. Thus far, Sutton is off to a good start.
“Sutts was fantastic,” said Red Bulls midfielder and former Toronto FC teammate Carl Robinson. “He is a proper pro as I call it, comes up with big saves at the right times. He’s been patient last year with Bouna, who had the number one position, but he’s started off very well this year and there’s going to be competition between them.”
- There was no official attendance at last night’s match but one Atlante official said it was approximately 6,000 fans in the stands. Much of the Mexican soccer fans’ attention last night was directed towards their national team’s 2-0 friendly win over Bosnia-Herzegovina. Still, once national hero Rafa Marquez came out onto the field after the match, there was a huge outcry from fans for autographs, photos and whatever the national team stalwart was wearing.
- Speaking of Coundoul, he started and played 68 minutes in Senegal’s 3-0 win over Guinea, earning his fifth cap. Defender Roy Miller did not play for Costa in a 2-2 tie with Venezuela.
- The players had a regeneration session today. This afternoon, they are going on team activities with one group heading on a yacht trip and the other going to a dolphin aquarium. We’ll have video of these trips soon.
- Penalty kick hero Austin da Luz ironically knows Atlante’s Sonny Guadarrama – the player who hit the final spot kick off the post – from before professional soccer. Da Luz and Guadarrama played against each other at different club levels and he was a teammate of his brother.
- Backe has continued his unbeaten streak in preseason, as he is now 8-0-3 extending to last year.
- Da Luz also has a knack for hitting big penalty kicks in preseason – he hit the clincher in the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic, helping New York beat Houston to win the tournament.
Watch the video below for da Luz's PK heroics vs. Houston last year
Statistic of the Day:
6: The number of players making their professional debuts. This included defenders Billy Cortes, Tyler Lassiter, Sacir Hot and Teddy Schneider, midfielder Matt Kassel and forward Corey Hertzog.