Daniel Royer scores against Stefan Frei in the first half. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)
HARRISON, N.J. — There are two ways to look at the Red Bulls’ 2-1 victory over struggling Seattle Sounders FC Wednesday.
One, it was good for them to earn three home points after going winless in their last two matches.
Two, they certainly could have made life easier for themselves had they put away some of their many chances against the lowest scoring team in the league (nine goals).
Still, it was a win.
Daniel Royer and Bradley Wright-Phillips found the range for New York at Red Bull Arena as the hosts, in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, improved to 8-4-2 and 26 points.
Right back Ethan Kutler, making his first MLS start and second appearance this season with regular Michael Amir Murillo with Panama at the World Cup, assisted on both goals.
“There’s some frustration that we don’t handle the game better because if we are better on the day, it can be much more in hand,” Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch said. “I told the guys, there’s no negativity right now. They have all had to dig so deep.”
That included midfielder Tyler Adams and center back Tim Parker, who took a Trans-Atlantic flight home after playing for the U.S. national team in France Saturday.
The Red Bulls are in the midst of playing four games in 11 days.
“So the three points is massive, and as much as on another day, you know, we could have — we could have been much better,” Marsch said. “The focus is to be happy about the three points and now find a way — I already told them that they have three days off after Philly.”
The Red Bulls visit the Philadelphia Union for a Round of 16 match in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Seattle (3-8-2, 11), which has reached the last two MLS Cup finals, entered Wednesday’s match with a meager nine goals.
Royer lifted the Red Bulls into the lead in the 37th minute. Kutler found Florian Valot on the right flank and the midfielder sent the ball across the penalty area. A sliding Wright-Phillips could not connect at the near post, but Royer had no problems putting the ball home past goalkeeper Stefan Frei at the far post.
In the 52nd minute, Wright-Phillips doubled the lead. This time Kutler put a perfect right-wing cross on the head of the English forward as BWP headed home from seven yards for a 2-0 advantage.
The goal was Wright-Phillip’s team-leading 10th this season, 96th of his MLS career and 114th across all competitions.
Second-half substitute Harry Shipp cut the lead in half in the 87th minute as he laced a shot off the left post and past goalkeeper Luis Robles.