Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his first goal of the year in the loss. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)
SEATTLE — So much for tying a league record and so much for a 3-0 start.
There were no own goals to help the Red Bulls Sunday night as the Seattle Sounders celebrated winning the 2016 MLS Cup with a solid 3-1 victory at CenturyLink Field.
The Red Bulls suffered their first Major League Soccer loss since a 2-0 defeat at New York City FC last July 3. The setback snapped their 18-game unbeaten streak, falling short of the league record of 19 matches.
“I don’t think we played very well,” Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch said. “We did not have many individual performances that were very good.”
And that translated into a mediocre at best team performance.
“Clearly, today was a day of self-inflicted wounds,” Marsch said.
Added captain Sacha Kljestan: “We were not good enough on the ball.”
The hosts were boosted by goals from their two U.S. international strikers, Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris and a deflected goal by Harry Shipp.
Bradley Wright-Phillips opened his 2017 account in the second half for the Red Bulls (2-1-0, 6 points), who failed to take sole possession of the Eastern Conference lead. They are tied with Atlanta United and Orlando City SC, although the expansion teams get the nod due to superior goal differential in that order (Atlanta plus eight, Orlando plus two, New York, zero). The Sounders (1-1-1, 4) earned their first win of the season.
The Red Bulls endured a difficult first half, allowing Seattle to control play and make goalkeeper Luis Robles earn his pay.
“I felt until 1-0 I didn’t think there was a lot of danger,” Marsch said. “Then we gave them a goal.”
That occurred in the 28th minute when referee Baldomero Toledo pointed to the penalty spot after Robles tripped Morris in the penalty area after a weak back pass from center back Damien Perrinelle.
Dempsey fired his shot down the middle while Robles dove to his left in vain. The U.S. international striker has converted all seven of his MLS penalty kicks he has attempted.
New York’s lone shot on target in the half came in the fourth minute when goalkeeper Stefan Frei knocked away Felipe’s shot from distance.
The Red Bulls finally found the range on Wright-Phillips’ first goal of the season as he headed home right back Sal Zizzo’s right-wing cross from close range in the 57th minute. BWP became the first MLS player to reach 70 games in the least amount of games (70).
“I thought we were going to on to win the game,” Wright-Phillips said.
But the Sounders had some other things in mind as they retook the lead in the 66th minute.
Joevin Jones slipped a short pass to Nicolas Lodeiro on the left side of the box and Morris managed to get himself free of Justin Bilyeu and he had an easy header from three yards on the far right side for a 2-1 advantage.
Seattle gave itself its some breathing room in the 79th minute as Harry Shipp’s effort from outside the penalty area was deflected off a New York player and into the left side of net, which caught Robles flat-footed for a 3-1 deficit.
“We’ve got to be better with our pressing and defending,” Marsch said.