UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – The week prior to Saturday night’s loss to Real Salt Lake, the Red Bulls avoided the talk that the match against the defending MLS Cup champions was a statement game.
But that didn’t stop Greg Sutton from making a point of his own: He may just be a starting 'keeper in MLS again next year.
Sutton made just his second appearance in league play this season in the loss at Rio Tinto Stadium, but his play was that of a first-choice netminder. He conceded the game’s only goal in the fourth minute, but he could hardly be faulted for the RBNY defensive breakdown that led to a Real Salt Lake breakaway and a close-range goal from Fabian Espindola.
“It was a tough goal, a tricky one,” Sutton told MLSsoccer.com. “They came in and Tim [Ream] made a good recovery. I thought he might get to that ball.”
It was a tough first half for New York, who rarely got the ball out of their own and played completely against the run of play – RSL held a five-to-one advantage in shots on goal when the halftime whistle blew.
But New York’s weaknesses also exposed Sutton’s strengths. The former Toronto FC goalkeeper and longtime D-2 Montreal Impact fixture made the save of the night in the 36th minute, denying a point-blank header from RSL star Robbie Findley.
[inline_node:317868]“I had to cover the near post, as the ball was coming in from that side,” Sutton said. “I then had to slide over quickly, and it was one of those things where you’re in good position to react. I saw [Findley] go up for the header and sort of knew where it might be going. It was just one of those saves – probably one of the ones I will remember for awhile.”
WATCH: SUTTON DENIES FINDLEY
The Red Bulls backup, whose other league appearance also came when regular backstop, Bouna Coundoul, was away on Senegalese National Team duty, has also made four US Open Cup starts this year for New York.
Sutton also has enjoyed success in the busy slate of international appearances New York has had this season. For him, it is all part of the job of being the backup.
“I know my role here is to simply be ready,” Sutton said. “Whatever the case may be, I need to always be ready. Everyone wants to start, but that’s not happening right now. But when these chances come, I need to work hard every day, so that I can be ready to seize them.”
Sutton’s solid play in his limited appearances this year – coupled with his international resume with the Canadian National Team – could make him an appealing option for the two expansion teams set to enter MLS next year. One of those teams is in his home country of Canada, but Sutton said he isn’t thinking about a possible contract with Vancouver.
“To be honest, it’s not even something I’ve thought about or focused on,” Sutton said. “Right now, I’m focused on my job here, every day being ready to play. We can do something special here – and I want to see that through.”