Harrison, NJ – There has not been much between Red Bull New York and Seattle Sounders FC over the past two seasons.
The two clubs have split their league meetings since 2010 - both sides won their road contests that season before claiming home victories in 2011.
But the cross-country rivals will not be able to split results this season as Seattle heads to Red Bull Arena to face New York on Sunday, the lone meeting between the sides in 2012.
New York had its three-game unbeaten snapped last time out, falling once again in Foxborough, Massachusetts to the New England Revolution. New York has not claimed a win in New England for a decade.
The Red Bulls were not at full strength for the match, missing star striker Thierry Henry and Mexican international Rafa Marquez.
"We are without six regulars, so I can't expect much more from these guys," head coach Hans Backe said. "They did what they could do in a way with the work rate and the energy they showed in the second half but of course we're too shorthanded.
"It's annoying. We haven't played two games in a row with a full-strength team, and if you look now with the guys -- with [Jan Gunnar] Solli out, [Markus] Holgersson out, [Heath] Pearce out, Marquez out, [Teemu] Tainio out, Henry out - that is six starters. So in a way, you can say that the depth this year is very good. These guys played quite well a month ago, and I think we won five in a row with almost the same team. But, at the end of the day, you cannot pick up wins as we did earlier."
Seattle also saw a lengthy spell come to an end last time out, halting a nine- game winless run with a 2-1 victory at the Colorado Rapids.
"It was important to get the win," said Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid. "It was important to get back home. It would have been nice to have it be 2-0 or 3-0 and be a lot cleaner than it was, but I was pleased overall."
The Sounders could be buoyed by the return of veteran goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, who has been absent for much of the season through injury.
"He's definitely moving closer. ... I wouldn't rule him out necessarily for Sunday and for sure after that he's probably full in," said Schmid.
Seattle has struggled somewhat to find an adequate deputy in Gspurning's absence. Bryan Meredith was handed the starting job but was later replaced by Andrew Weber after some shaky play from the New Jersey native.
The Sounders would certainly welcome Gspurning's return against a potent Red Bulls attack.