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Weekly Update: Off to a good start

RED BULLS PUT OUT FIRE IN RBA MLS OPENER: In the first MLS regular season match at Red Bull Arena, a first-half strike from midfielder Joel Lindpere gave the Red Bulls a 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire in front of a near sellout crowd of 24,572 fans. Red Bulls goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul earned the shutout, making eight saves.

Red Bulls midfielder Dane Richards had two shots early that did not trouble goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra. Later, Juan Pablo Angel tried a short-angle shot that went wide. Chicago nearly went ahead on an acrobatic attempt by Brian McBride. Off a deflected clearance, McBride tried a bicycle kick that bounced past Coundoul, who was off his line, and off the left post in the 23rd minute. Fifteen minutes later, Macoumba Kandji darted into the box and took a shot that Dykstra smothered.

The Red Bulls took the lead in the 40th minute. Danleigh Borman chipped the ball into the box and it was headed into the path of Lindpere, who volleyed a right-footed shot underneath the crossbar to give the Red Bulls the lead. It was the Estonian's second goal in as many matches, as he scored the first-ever goal at Red Bull Arena in New York's 3-1 Grand Opening win over Santos FC on March 20.

Angel tried to make it 2-0 six minutes into the second half when he chested down a Lindpere pass, turned and knocked it past the right post. Soon after, Angel had time to take a shot on goal, but Wilman Conde slid in to block it away.

The Fire forced Coundoul to make a diving save in the 62nd minute. After substitute Baggio Husidic earned a foul 22 yards out, Mike Banner's ensuing free kick on goal was punched away by Coundoul, before the goalkeeper caught Husidic's rebound attempt.

Lindpere hit a long-range attempt 20 minutes from full time that Dykstra bobbled before covering. Four minutes later, Sinisa Ubiparipovic slid a through ball into the box to an on-rushing Richards, who tried to go top corner but it went high. The Fire almost tied the game in the 84th minute, as Collins John beat Coundoul to the ball and it was deflected to Patrick Nyarko. Nyarko, however, could not get his shot on target.

RED BULLS TRAVEL TO SEATTLE: After opening Red Bull Arena to MLS regular season play last Saturday, the Red Bulls kick off a two-game road trip, first taking on Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday at Qwest Field at 10:30 PM ET (TV: FSC, FSE - pre-game show starts at 10:00 PM).

Both teams head into Saturday's showdown coming off opening week wins. Sounders FC rode goals from Brad Evans and Fredy Montero to defeat MLS expansion side, the Philadelphia Union, 2-0 at Qwest Field on Thursday, March 25. Former U.S. Men's National Team goalkeeper Kasey Keller made four saves to earn the shutout.

Montero returns to Seattle after scoring a team-high 12 goals in 27 starts. Against the Union, he partnered up top with Swedish Designated Player Freddie Ljungberg, who recorded a team-high nine assists in 2009. Keller, in his return to MLS last year, posted a 0.92 goals against average and 10 shutouts - both marks which were good for second place in the League.

New York earned a 0-1-1 record against Seattle last season. In the opening match for both teams on March 19 at Qwest Field, Sounders FC earned a 3-0 win with a Montero brace and an Evans first half goal. The Red Bulls were able to tally a point at home in the teams' second match - a 1-1 tie on June 20 at Giants Stadium. New York's Juan Pablo Angel and Montero were the goalscorers.

The Red Bulls will play Sounders FC before heading to Los Angeles the following week to face CD Chivas USA on April 10 at 4:00 PM at The Home Depot Center.

LAST WEEK:
Red Bulls 1, Chicago Fire 0 on March 27 at Red Bull Arena

THIS WEEK:
Red Bulls at Seattle Sounders FC on April 3 at Qwest Field at 10:30 PM (TV: FSC, FSE - pre-game show starts at 10:00 PM)

NEXT WEEK:
Red Bulls at CD Chivas USA on April 10 at The Home Depot Center at 4:00 PM (TV: MSG, TeleFutura)

NO ORDINARY JOE: New Red Bulls midfielder Joel Lindpere has quickly made a positive impact since signing with team on March 5. After tallying the first-ever goal at Red Bull Arena in a 3-1 win over Santos FC on March 20 off a left-footed volley from the top of the box in the 11th minute, the Estonian midfielder duplicated his effort with a 40th minute right-footed volley to give the Red Bulls a 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire on Saturday, March 27. The 28-year-old, who signed with the Red Bulls after playing for Norway's Tromso IF, has 74 caps for the Estonian National Team.

DEBUTANTS: Several Red Bulls made debuts in the team's 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire on March 27. Midfielder Joel Lindpere and defender Roy MIller started and played their first MLS games, while rookie Tony Tchani made his professional debut, coming on in the 90th minute for Macoumba Kandji. Fellow rookie Tim Ream also earned the start in his first match, playing the full 90 minutes in central defense and helping the team earn a shutout.

In addition, Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe and Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos met in a battle of two first-time MLS coaches. The last time two first-timers occurred was on April 3, 2004 when D.C. United's Peter Nowak faced San Jose Earthquakes' Dominic Kinnear. United won that match, 2-1.

KILLER D: Red Bulls goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul and the team's defense started the season well, earning a shutout in New York's 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire on March 27. Coundoul made eight saves on the night while the back four of Jeremy Hall, Mike Petke, Tim Ream and Roy Miller kept the Fire at bay.

"They were excellent - absolutely all of them, including Bouna (Coundoul), who made a couple of key saves. But (Tim) Ream, (Mike) Petke, (Jeremy) Hall and (Roy) Miller.... it was definitely our key to win the game," said Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe after the match.

The Red Bulls, who went 7-0-3 in preseason, conceded just four goals in those 10 matches.

RED BULLS PEN ACADEMY STANDOUT AGUDELO: Red Bull New York announced on March 26 that it signed Red Bull Academy forward Juan Agudelo, as he became the second Home Grown player produced by the club to join the first team. Specific terms of the deal were not disclosed, per MLS and club policy.

"Juan is certainly a player to watch out for in the future," said Red Bull New York General Manager and Sporting Director Erik Soler. "His physical and technical ability for someone of his age is impressive and he had a very strong preseason. We are thrilled to sign him for the first team and hope that he is one of the many players who will be developed thorough our academy."

Agudelo, 17, has been with the Academy program since 2007, when he joined the Under-15 squad. On Sept. 3, 2008, the Barnegat, NJ native was accepted into the United States U-17 Men's National Team Residency Program at IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL, and scored his first goal for the U.S. U-17s just over two weeks later. He helped the U.S. U-17s qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup after the team posted a 3-0-0 record out of Group A at the CONCACAF U-17 Championships in Tijuana, Mexico.

"I'm thrilled to join the Red Bulls," Agudelo said. "The players in the locker room have welcomed me since I joined the squad in preseason and I'm excited to continue to play for this organization as a member of the First Team. I want to thank the Red Bull Academy for their help in developing me as a player."

At the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Nigeria, Agudelo and the U-17s advanced out of group play to the knockout round before being eliminated. The Manizales, Colombia native also represented the U.S. at the U-20 level at Copa Chivas in Guadalajara, Mexico, scoring against the Brazilian U-20 side in a 1-1 draw.

In July 2009, the MLS Board of Governors approved an amendment to the rules governing the signing of youth academy players. MLS clubs receive two additional roster slots that may be used to sign academy players, in accordance with current Home Grown Player rules, to Generation adidas or developmental contracts during the 2009 season. These players will not count toward the 24-player roster limit.

FOR STARTERS: The Red Bulls have gone unbeaten in their last seven home openers (4-0-3). Their last loss in a home opener was against the Columbus Crew on April 12, 2003 - a 1-0 defeat. New York is 9-3-3 overall in home openers and 6-6-3 in regular season openers.

RED BULLS SIGN ROOKIE TRIO: Red Bull New York announced on March 25 that it signed defender Tim Ream, forward Conor Chinn and midfielder Irving Garcia. All three players were selected by New York in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft on Jan. 14 in Philadelphia, PA.

"We think that they have bright futures ahead of them," said Red Bull New York General Manager and Sporting Director Erik Soler. "They have all worked very hard to secure their spots on the squad and we are looking forward to track their progress this season."

Ream was a second round (18th overall) selection from Saint Louis University. The former All-American was the Atlantic 10 Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 after scoring a career-high six goals and five assists. Ream played the full 90 minutes in central defense and tallied an assist against Santos FC last Saturday in the Red Bulls' 3-1 win at Red Bull Arena's Grand Opening.

Chinn was selected in the third round (34th overall) in the draft out of the University of San Francisco. The 2008 WCC Player of the Year after recording 17 goals, Chinn scored four goals for New York in preseason action. The 22-year-old from San Diego, CA was 2009 First Team All-WCC selection, tallying 10 goals and three assists.

Garcia was picked by New York in the fourth round (50th overall) out of the University of California - Irvine. He helped Irvine win two-straight Big West Conference titles and led the league in points and assists, earning the Big West Offensive Player of the year.

WHAT THEY SAID: Here was the post-match reaction after New York's 1-0 win over Chicago on March 27:

NEW YORK RED BULLS HEAD COACH HANS BACKE

On Joel Lindpere:
"He can be the player from central midfield who can go for the killer passes, finer passes but he will score goals for us too. He's an absolute hard worker. His work rate is phenomenal. He kept going for 90 minutes... I'm a little bit surprised no other teams in Europe picked him up when he was out of contract."

On the Chicago Fire:
"Chicago surprised me. The way they started to play from behind, perhaps because of the Mexican coach. They all the time try for the goalie just to come short to the back four and they were a technically good side. I was surprised I must say. The first half when we were then starting to press them too high, it was space all over the place for them to play, so I think, what I've seen so far is I said that this must be the best I've seen in the MLS so far this season."

NEW YORK RED BULLS FORWARD JUAN PABLO ANGEL

On beating Chicago:
"Today we played well. We know we could play a little bit better than that but from previous games, it was very important to just get a win against these guys because we didn't have a good record against them in the last three or four games."

On the game:
"We were a lot more organized. When you look at them they didn't really have that many chances. It was a really even game. And that (Joel) Lindpere goal... that was the only difference in the game. Apart from that it was really even. We have a few chances, they have the same or less chances that we have but it was important to get the result today. It was important to get of with a winning game, or win today to just the game over and start building up from there. We know that we have to correct a lot of things but it's important to correct them while you're winning not while you're losing."

NEW YORK RED BULLS MIDFIELDER JOEL LINDPERE

On joining the Red Bulls:
"I think we have many new players. Half of the team is new. Half of the staff is new. The stadium, everything, that was also my reason to come here. Probably if this (didn't) happen, I should not be here. So I think the circumstances and all about what was happening around this club, I knew it before I signed the contract."

On playing central midfield:
"I like this position. I have played many (other places) in this position before, only not in my last club. I try to keep on going like this and I think we have many good central midfielders. We have a good competition inside the team... and everybody should work harder because of this."

On his goal:
"It's a little bit the same situation as last time (against Santos). I took the rebound and scored. I have quite OK shot with especially my left one and if its chance with this ball to shoot, everybody should try it."

NEW YORK RED BULLS GOALKEEPER BOUNA COUNDOUL

On his performance:
"I feel good. I would give credit to the whole team and the fans and everybody that pitched in. This is a positive start. This is what we were looking for so the fact that we come away with the 'W' it looks good, so we're looking forward for the upcoming games."

On the shutout:
"As a goalie, I always want to win with a clean sheet, with a shutout. So today, we did and everybody pitched in and worked hard so I feel good so I'm getting ready for the next game."

REDBULLARENA.US RELAUNCHED: Red Bull New York announced the re-launch of RedBullArena.us, the official website of Red Bull Arena, New York's state-of-the-art, soccer-specific stadium being constructed in Harrison, New Jersey.

RedBullArena.us will become an all-inclusive destination for all things related to the new home of the New York Red Bulls, including arena news, features, directions to the facility, an event calendar, and a live webcam that will allow supporters of the Red Bulls to follow the final stages of the construction process.

The look of the site was designed by Red Bull Creative, while the site was created and built by AmericanEagle.com.

SOLO FUTBOL AIRS SUNDAY: Red Bulls WADO 1280 AM and 92.7 FM announcers Ernesto Motta and Robert Sierra host their weekly call-in radio show, Solo Futbol, on Sunday night from 8-11 PM on WADO 1280 AM. Motta, Sierra and their panel of experts and guests analyze the Beautiful Game and the New York Red Bulls, as they get ready for their upcoming MLS season.