MLS has bill this one as a star-laden affair, for obvious reasons. Thierry Henry. Clint Dempsey. Tim Cahill. Obafemi Martins. Four of the league’s biggest names will be on hand when the Sounders visit Red Bull Arena this evening, though thanks to short weeks for both teams, three of those stars begin tonight’s game on the bench. Tonight, depth will be tested as the New York welcomes Seattle to New Jersey.
Coverage begins after the day’s first game, Vancouver’s visit to Portland (at roughly 7:30 p.m. ET). Like that Cascadia Derby, you can watch New York and Seattle via NBCSN or online, with full coverage available on NBC Sports Live Extra.
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Seattle enters tonight’s game having claimed the season’s first trophy, persevering through extra time mid-week to claim a 3-1 win over Philadelphia in the U.S Open Cup final. Back in MLS play, the Sounders will resume their pursuit for the season’s second honor, holding a three-point lead (and a game in hand) in the Supporters’ Shield race. With the LA Galaxy still within striking distance, the Sounders need a result in Harrison to guarantee they’ll finish the weekend alone on top.
Last year’s Supporters’ Shield winners, the Red Bulls, have different, more modest goals in mind. Currently fourth in the Eastern Conference, Mike Petke’s team is fighting to return to the postseason, with Columbus and Philadelphia only one point back. Failure to take advantage of Seattle’s weakened lineup (one without Dempsey or Martins) could leave New York in sixth place by night’s end.
As with any Red Bull game, the focal point will be Thierry Henry, who has had one of his most influential seasons since moving to Major League Soccer. While nine goals and 12 assists speak to some of that influence, the 21 goals scored by journeyman Bradley Wright-Phillips are better examples of the continued impact the 37-year-old can have on a game.
If Henry’s given time to exert that influence tonight, New York can get a much-needed boost in its quest to return to the playoffs. Else, Seattle will strengthen its place atop the league, increasing the chance the Sounders will claim their first Supporters’ Shield.
New York: Robles; Duvall, Olave, Sekagya, Miller; Sam, McCarty, Alexander; Oyongo; Henry, Wright-Phillips
Seattle: Frei; Anibaba, Marshall, Traore, Remick; Neagle, Rose, Alonso, Pappa; Cooper, Barrett