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Red Bulls Weekly Update: March 21

RED BULLS HIT THE ROAD TO TAKE ON COLUMBUS: Fresh off their season-opening 1-0 victory over Seattle Sounders FC last Saturday, the Red Bulls take to the road for the first time this season when they visit Eastern Conference rival Columbus Crew on Saturday at Crew Stadium at 4:00 PM ET (Radio: WADO 1280 AM).

The Red Bulls will look to open the season with two consecutive wins for the second year in a row. Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Seattle improved New York’s record in season opening matches to 6-6-3, and 9-3-3 in home openers. New York’s lone goal on Saturday set MLS firsts for a pair of Red Bulls; the 70th minute game-winner was the first career MLS goal for 18-year-old United States International Juan Agudelo, and Finnish midfielder Teemu Tainio picked up his first career MLS assist in setting up the marker. With the victory, the Red Bulls come into this Saturday’s match with a record of 1-0-0 and 3 points, tied with D.C United, Sporting Kansas City, and the Philadelphia Union in the East, all of whom won their opening week tilts.

The Crew fell to D.C. United 3-1 at RFK Stadium in their opening match of the 2011 season. After a scoreless first half between the two Eastern Conference sides, a couple of new faces in D.C. put United up. Josh Wolff tallied his first goal of the season in the 51st minute, and Charlie Davies marked his return to top-flight professional soccer with two goals, staking D.C. to a 3-0 lead. Columbus brought one goal back thanks to Robbie Rogers, but that was as far back as the Crew would come.

All-time against Columbus, the Red Bulls are 22-23-5. In 2010, the Crew took both decisions against New York, winning 3-1 at Red Bull Arena on May 20, 2010 and 2-0 at Crew Stadium on July 17, 2010. In 25 matches at Crew Stadium dating back to 1996, New York is 9-14-2. The Red Bulls will be without six players for the match due to international duty: Rafa Marquez (Mexico), Sacir Hot (United States Under-20), Tim Ream (United States), Dane Richards (Jamaica), Juan Agudelo (United States), and Bouna Coundoul (Senegal).

AGUDELO FIRES RED BULLS PAST SOUNDERS, 1-0: Forward and U.S. National Team member Juan Agudelo scored his first career MLS goal as the New York Red Bulls earned a 1-0 victory over Seattle Sounders FC in the team’s opening match of 2011 in front of 20,982 at Red Bull Arena. Goalkeeper Greg Sutton made seven saves to earn the clean sheet for the defending Eastern Conference Regular Season Champion.

The Red Bulls immediately threatened Seattle’s net from the get-go and controlled possession for most of the first half. In the fourth minute, Thierry Henry was able to re-direct a pass on frame and goalkeeper Kasey Keller was forced to dive to his right and palm it away.

Keller again got the upper hand against Henry five minutes later after Agudelo earned a penalty kick when he was clipped by defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado in the box. Henry stepped up and drove his attempt inside the left post, but Keller guessed correctly and parried it.

Seattle had a strong opportunity in the 15th minute, as Alvaro Fernandez and Fredy Montero played a nifty give-and-go that left Fernandez alone on net. However, the Uruguayan’s chip went straight at Sutton. Montero later attempted to test Sutton from distance with a long range blast that the goalkeeper blocked and collected.

With seven minutes left in the interval, Fernandez slipped Montero through and the Colombian striker’s shot from the right side was saved by Sutton. After a melee in front of net, Sutton smothered the ball to keep the game scoreless. Soon after, Montero got space on the endline and lifted his acute-angle shot off the post.

Both teams hunted for the first goal in the second half and Red Bulls midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy nearly provided it for the hosts, deflecting a Rafa Marquez corner just past the right upright.

Agudelo gave the Red Bulls the lead with 20 minutes to play. Midfielder Teemu Tainio got the ball back for New York and hit a high, left-footed pass to an on-rushing Agudelo. Agudelo brushed off pressure from his defender and curled a shot past Keller and into the net.

Substitute Tony Tchani almost iced the game with moments to play, when his header off a Marquez corner kick was tipped over the bar by Keller. Sounders forward Lamar Neagle could have earned a point for Seattle in second half stoppage time, putting a rebound from a Montero free kick over the bar.

LAST WEEK: Red Bulls 1, Seattle Sounders FC 0 at Red Bull Arena on March 19

THIS WEEK: Red Bulls at Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium on March 26 at 4:00 PM

NEXT WEEK: Red Bulls vs. Houston Dynamo at Red Bull Arena on April 2 at 7:30 PM

TAINIO, SOLLI MAKE RED BULLS DEBUTS: Two Red Bulls made their team and MLS debuts in Saturday’s win over Seattle. Finnish midfielder Teemu Tainio got the start in midfield and played all 90 minutes, and also picked up his first assist as a Red Bull, setting up Juan Agudelo’s 70th minute winner. Norwegian Jan Gunnar Solli started the match at right back and played all 90 minutes in his debut.

AGUDELO NOTCHES FIRST CAREER GOAL: Eighteen year old forward and United States International Juan Agudelo scored his first career MLS goal to lift the Red Bulls over Seattle Sounders FC on March 19. The game also marked Agudelo’s first MLS start in the regular season. Last year, Agudelo started two games in the MLS Cup Playoffs, and picked up an assist. The goal also has significance in the Red Bulls organization, as Agudelo became the first Red Bulls Academy player to score a goal for the first team in an MLS match.

SUTTON GETS THE CALL, DELIVERS SHUTOUT: Goalkeeper Greg Sutton got the start in net in the Red Bulls’ season opening victory over Seattle last Saturday, and made seven saves en route to picking up the shutout victory. Sutton signed with the Red Bulls prior to the 2010 season, and made three starts for the club in MLS play last season.

RED BULL LAUNCHES NEW YORK’S GOT WINGS: Red Bull is giving wings to the city of New York. The New York Red Bulls will be vitalizing local soccer programs by providing needed equipment and elite-level coaching throughout the upcoming season.  In partnership with sports apparel company adidas and equipment supplier Kwik Goal, the donation of goods and resources will aim to cover New York’s soccer-playing fanbase, from those participating in city-run summer camps, to younger athletes training in soccer clubs in the five boroughs.  

For every goal scored by the New York Red Bulls during the 2011 MLS regular season, Red Bull will make donations to the New York City Parks & Recreation Department’s summer camp programs. For each goal, $1,000  in  equipment and clinics will be donated to the cause. The team hopes exposing kids to the fundamentals of soccer will help them embrace the sport, thus leading them to a healthier lifestyle.

“Parks & Recreation is thrilled to partner with The New York Red Bulls, the region’s only professional soccer team, to bring soccer clinics and equipment to our Summer Camp sports programming,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.  “Together we can help introduce children to the sport, while encouraging our professional team and finding new fans along the way.”

In addition to contributing to NYC Parks, “New York’s Got Wings” will also be doling out contributions in the form of new soccer equipment to New York youth soccer programs throughout the five boroughs. In order to spread the word and gain community support, each borough will take turns throughout the season voting for a specific youth soccer club to receive the prize.

The soccer club voting for each borough will take place over a seven game block starting with Queens (3/19 – 4/30), Brooklyn (5/7 – 6/11), Staten Island (6/19 – 7/16), Bronx (7/20 – 9/10) and Manhattan (9/17 – 10/20).

"Programs like New York's Got Wings that utilize soccer as means to integrate youth, promote health and give back to the community are very important to me." said New York Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry. "As someone that has received so much from this sport since I was growing up, I feel a responsibility to constantly use soccer as a tool of positive social change."

"I am thrilled to be part of the New York's Got Wings Program," Red Bulls midfielder Rafa Marquez said. "I think it is extremely important to develop youth soccer programs in the tri-state area and I am willing to help out in any way I can."

Recognizing the momentum of the program, adidas will contribute 1,000 soccer balls at the start of the MLS season, with one additional ball donated in honor of every Red Bulls jersey purchased at the adidas Sport Performance store in New York.  This program will last throughout the 2011 season.

For more information, voting and goal tracking for “New York’s Got Wings,” please visit Voting begins on Opening Game day. Please follow @NYGotWings for campaign updates and exclusive giveaways

Defenders Rafa Marquez (Mexico) and Tim Ream (United States), midfielder Dane Richards (Jamaica), forward Juan Agudelo (United States) and goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul (Senegal) have been called up to their respective national teams for matches taking place in late March during international FIFA dates. As a result, all six players will miss the Red Bulls’ March 26 encounter against the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium at 4:00 PM ET.

Marquez will be looking to earn his 98th and 99th caps for his country when Mexico takes on Paraguay in Oakland, CA on March 26 and Venezuela in San Diego, CA on March 29. The former FC Barcelona and AS Monaco star and National Team captain joined the Red Bulls on Aug. 2, 2010 as a Designated Player and featured in 10 matches for New York last season, scoring one goal and one assist.  Marquez is in his first full season in MLS.

MLS Rookie of the Year finalist and 2010 Red Bulls Defender of the Year Ream was called to the U.S. side for their March 26 clash against Argentina at New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ and March 29 game against Paraguay at LP Field in Nashville, TN. After a stellar rookie season, the Saint Louis University product, who played in every minute of every one of New York’s 30 regular season matches and two playoff matches, earned his first two caps this past offseason for the senior team, making starts against South Africa and Chile.

Agudelo will also join the U.S. squad in their two friendlies. The Red Bulls Academy product earned his first two caps for the senior team this past offseason. Against South Africa on Nov. 17, 2010 in a 1-0 win, Agudelo scored the game-winning goal for the U.S. in the 85th minute in his debut and became the youngest American player to score a goal for the senior national team at 17-years old. Last season, Agudelo made club history by becoming the first Red Bulls Academy player to feature for the first team. He appeared in two MLS regular season matches to go along with two MLS Cup playoff games.

Richards and the Jamaican National Team will take on Venezuela on March 25 in Montego Bay, Jamaica and El Salvador on March 27 in San Salvador, El Salvador. Richards has 26 caps and recently led Jamaica to the 2010 Digicel Caribbean Cub championship, winning a share of the Golden Boot with three goals. The former Clemson University standout is in his fifth season as a Red Bull. Last year, Richards had a career-high five goals to go along with three assists in 25 games.

Coundoul was named to the Senegal National Team for its upcoming match in the African Cup of Nations against Cameroon on March 26 in Dakar. Coundoul enters his third season with the Red Bulls, having been capped five times for Senegal. This past season, Coundoul started 27 games for the Red Bulls, posting a 14-8-5 record to go along with a 1.04 goals against average. Coundoul also set the regular season franchise record for shutouts during the 2010 season by recording 11 clean sheets.

SACIR HOT CALLED INTO U.S. U-20 SQUAD FOR CONCACAF CHAMPIONSHIPS: New York Red Bulls defender Sacir Hot has been named by US U-20 Men’s National Team head coach Thomas Rongen to the roster for the 2011 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Guatemala from March 28 to April 10. Hot will be unavailable for New York’s matches away to Columbus Crew (March 26), home to Houston Dynamo (April 2) and away to Philadelphia Union on April 9.

Hot helped lead the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team to the Milk Cup title, making his U20 MNT debut in the process.

The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team has been drawn into Group B of the CONCACAF tournament and will face Suriname on March 29 at 8 p.m. ET and Panama on April 2 at 6 p.m. ET at Estadio Nacional Mateo Flores. Both games will be televised on ESPN Deportes and ESPN3.

At the 12-team regional event, the top two teams in each group will advance to the tournament quarterfinals, and the four quarterfinal winners will seal a berth to the FIFA U-20 World Cup, set for July 29-Aug. 20 across eight cities in Colombia. The U.S. will be attempting to qualify for an eighth-consecutive time, having qualified for 13 U-20 World Cups since the tournament began in 1977.

Hot is one of eight representatives of Major League Soccer on the roster.

ALBRIGHT UNDERGOES SUCCESSFUL SURGERY: Red Bull New York announced that defender Chris Albright underwent surgery on March 8 to repair a small tear in his lateral meniscus in his left knee. Albright is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. The surgical procedure was performed by Dr. Bert Mandelbaum.

The defender will begin rehabilitation in Los Angeles before returning to New York to complete the process. Albright, a 12 year veteran of Major League Soccer, joined the Red Bulls last season and was a finalist for the league’s Comeback Player of the Year Award. In 2010, he started and appeared in 18 matches, and registered two assists.

RED BULL ARENA TO HOST CONCACAF GOLD CUP DOUBLEHEADER JUNE 13: The 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup groups and schedule were announced March 8 by CONCACAF. Red Bull Arena, the home of the New York Red Bulls, will host a first round Group B doubleheader on June 13 with Guatemala and Grenada kicking off at 7:00 PM ET before Honduras battles Jamaica at 9:00 PM ET.

"We are thrilled to host the four Group B teams at Red Bull Arena on June 13," said Red Bull New York Managing Director Erik Stover . "Our goal is to make Red Bull Arena a destination for soccer in North America and hosting this year's Gold Cup is a major step in reaching that aim."

The 2011 Gold Cup champion and CONCACAF representative to the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil will be crowned on Saturday, June 25 at the historic Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling the Red Bulls at 1.877.RBSOCCER or by CLICKING HERE.

“We are extremely excited for this year's Gold Cup and are completely confident that it will be the best ever”, CONCACAF General Secretary Chuck Blazer  said. "We are bringing our fans the region’s best football in fantastic venues - with a lot on the line. It is truly a can't-miss event."

The Gold Cup, which has generated record attendances and television ratings in each of the past three competitions, will be played coast-to-coast at 13 venues again this year, including five new stadia. New Meadowlands Stadium, RFK Stadium and Reliant Stadium will serve as quarterfinal and semifinal venues, respectively, leading up to the grand finale at the Rose Bowl on June 25.

RED BULL ARENA AND THE TACO TRUCK ANNOUNCE PARTNERSHIP: The Taco Truck announced a marketing sponsorship alliance with Red Bull Arena and Red Bull New York as “The Official Taco of the New York Red Bulls”. The fast-casual restaurant and mobile vending concept’s partnership with the state-of-the-art Arena will include in-arena brand exposure for the duration of the 2011 Major League Soccer regular season as well as food vending in the Interactive Zone, and will coincide with The Taco Truck’s launch into new markets in New Jersey this year.

Originally launched as a mobile vending truck in 2009 in Hoboken and Jersey City, NJ, then as a brick and mortar restaurant in Hoboken, NJ in 2010, The Taco Truck serves authentic Mexican street food in a unique and engaging environment.

“The Taco Truck brings tacos back to their essence, food deeply rooted in the culture of Mexican street vendors,” said Jason Scott, Founder and CEO at The Taco Truck. “We look forward to expanding our concept into new markets throughout the tri-state area and beyond.”

“We are excited to introduce our unique concept to the fans at Red Bull Arena at every home match this season and think we will be a welcome addition to the Interactive Zone,” continued Scott. “We can’t think of a better partnership, tacos and soccer.  That sounds like a perfect day.”