Major League Soccer (Mid)Week 15: Sounders Top Red Bulls 4-2 In Front Of More Than 46,000

Roger Levesque scores two goals after Sounders blow 2-0 lead.

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Seattle Sounders Vs. New York Red Bulls: Roger Levesque Scores Two Goals, Sends 46,000-Plus Home Happy

With more than 46,000 people in attendance and a national TV audience, the Seattle Sounders were under a bit of pressure to put a decent show against the New York Red Bulls on Thursday. Boy, did they deliver.

The Sounders quickly built a 2-0 lead on goals by Erik Friberg and Osvaldo Alonso, summarily gave that away with the equalizer coming on an own-goal, and then stormed back ahead on a pair of goals from Roger Levesque, who entered the game with three goals in his MLS career. All in all, it was an entertaining display in front of the season's biggest MLS crowd.

Of the four Sounders goals, Friberg's was easily the most impressive. The Swedish midfielder collected a ball just outside the penalty area and curled it perfectly inside the far post to give the Sounders the early 1-0 lead. About a minute later, Alonso took a full volley from the edge of the penalty area that worked its way through what seemed to be the entire Red Bulls defense.

Dane Richard eventually halved that lead and an own goal, created by a cross from Jan Gunnar Solli that deflected off Zach Scott, brought it back to even. But the equalizer may have come to early, as Levesque scored on a header in the 67th minute to reclaim the lead and then iced the game when he was able to steal the ball away from goalkeeper Greg Sutton, who mishandled a pass from one of his defenders.

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Seattle Sounders Vs. New York Red Bulls: Huge Crowd Expected

The biggest crowd of the MLS season will be on hand for tonight's match between the Seattle Sounders and the New York Red Bulls as more than 45,000 tickets have already been sold. Those fans, though, will not be treated to the star-studded affair many believed they would be seeing when those tickets were purchased. Thierry Henry, Rafael Marquez, Tim Ream and Juan Agudelo will all be missing for the Red Bulls, while the Sounders are still without the likes of Steve Zakuani.

The good folks at Sounder at Heart are not particularly concerned:

Of course, what's bad for name recognition is good for victory odds. The tension between competitiveness and getting butts in the seats is one that's never far away in a league as young as MLS, even for the successful franchises. The argument of the #TrophiesNotFriendlies movement is that winning is what ultimately will draw fans to the games. And pocketing a bunch of cash for a River Plate friendly in the middle of the season at the risk of injuries and fatigue affecting the playoff race is a bad bargain. This is true in mature leagues like MLB and the NBA where the attendance recipe is as simple as getting a good stadium or venue and winning. Counterarguers will point to Colorado as a team that just won a championship but can't consistently draw. But whatever problems Commerce City has drawing fans don't exist in Seattle, as we've shown over the last two years.

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Chicago Fire Vs. Real Salt Lake: One More Scoreless Draw For Frank Klopas' Team

Frank Klopas has only been the head coach of the Chicago Fire for five matches, but he's already succeeded in making them a considerably better defensive team than they had been under Carlos de los Cobos. After Wednesday's 0-0 tie with Real Salt Lake, the Fire now have four shutouts under Klopas after registering just one during their first 11 matches. The Fire have now gone unbeaten in their past six and have allowed just one goal in their past five.

The tie continues a frustrating run of results for RSL, who have now gone four matches without a win and have won just one of their past eight. The struggles have essentially coincided with Javier Morales' season-ending injury. They did outshoot the Fire 13-11, and forced Sean Johnson into a couple tough saves, but ultimately were shut out for the fourth time this season. Last year they were shut out just seven times all season.

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Philadelphia Union Vs. Sporting Kansas City: Hey, A Scoreless Draw

The Philadelphia Union fired off 26 shots, hit one of them off the crossbar, but could never quite unlock the Sporting Kansas City defense as the two teams played to a 0-0 tie on Wednesday. The tie extended Sporting's unbeaten streak to six matches, while the Union are now winless in their past four.

The Union's best chance came in the 76th minute when Ruiz got free for a header but hit it off the crossbar. Ruiz actually played reasonably well in his first game back from Gold Cup duty, forcing Jimmy Nielsen into several tough saves.

Sporting seemed perfectly happy to take the road point, though. They only took eight shots and did not force Faryd Mondragon into a single save. They won just 38 percent of the duels and had just 40 percent of the possession. But after a start that saw SKC claim just four points in their first eight matches, they aren't about to worry about style points now that they have 10 in their past six.

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Major League Soccer (Mid)Week 15 Preview: Why Are They Playing On Wednesday?

MLS receives a lot of, in my opinion, undeserved criticism for their scheduling decisions. I understand why they didn't feel like taking time off for the Gold Cup. I'll forgive them for scheduling nationally televised games for 11 p.m. Eastern. But scheduling two games on the same day as the Gold Cup semis? Really? Is that remotely necessary?

Neither game is on national TV, so that's obviously not the reason. All four teams do have a weekend game scheduled, but that doesn't mean these games couldn't have been played on Thursday. The one game being played on Thursday is being broadcast on ESPN2, but both of Wednesday's games could have been scheduled early enough not to conflict. This just seems to be an example of the league being purposefully obtuse.

With all that said, we're pretty sure these will be among the most ignored games of the season. I know my attention will almost certainly be on Mexico-Honduras and United States-Panama, but if one of your teams is playing tonight, I suppose I can't begrudge you that...

Philadelphia Union vs. Sporting Kansas City, 7:30 p.m., Wednesday

A few weeks ago, this would have seemed to be an overwhelmingly obvious pick. But the Union have not looked so hot since laying that 6-2 beat down on Toronto FC and Sporting KC has actually looked pretty good in recent weeks. The Union haven't won in three matches, while Sporting is on a five-match unbeaten run. If current form holds, this will likely be a low-scoring affair. A result from Sporting would be one of their loudest statements yet, while anything less than a win for the Union must really make us question if they are really to make a run at the Eastern Conference title. Pick: Tied 1-1.

Chicago Fire vs. Real Salt Lake, 8:30 p.m., Wednesday

Frank Klopas has yet to lose since taking over as the Fire head coach and his team has yielded just one goal in the four games with him at the helm. It's hard what to really make of that run of succes, though, as none of the teams they've played are exactly offensive juggernauts. The best of the bunch was probably the Seattle Sounders, whom they tied 0-0. Real Salt Lake will be much closer to full strength this week as Will Johnson, Alvaro Saborio and Arturo Alvarez are all back from national team duty. They are also looking to rediscover their groove as they've won just once in their past seven. Pick: RSL 2-1.

Seattle Sounders vs. New York Red Bulls, 10 p.m., Thursday (ESPN2)

The Sounders have already sold about 45,000 tickets for this match and are hoping to come close to putting 50,000 people in the house. It's unclear how many of those casuals will even be aware that Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez won't even be playing, but their absence probably doesn't help the potential walk-up. Still, it should be a pretty impressive atmosphere as more tickets have already been sold for this game than any other MLS game in Sounders history. With Tim Ream and probably Luke Rodgers also out for the Red Bulls, this would seem an opportune time for the Sounders to turn around their so far lackluster play at home. Pick: Sounders 2-0.

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