The Red Bulls struggled against most teams last year—at one point going four months without a league win—but one side it has never defeated—ever—is the Seattle Sounders.
As last year's expansion team, the Sounders—in their first-ever MLS game—thrashed New York, 3-0. Then, later in the season at Giants Stadium, New York held the run of play and had the majority of chances, but a Jeremy Hall miscue allowed Seattle’s Fredy Montero to score a goal before halftime to earn a 1-1 draw.
Seattle went on to make the playoffs, becoming the first MLS team since the 1998 Chicago Fire to go to the postseason in its inaugural year. New York, of course, finished last in the league standings but is now bent on changing things around.
“Last year Seattle clearly came out and took it to us,” forward John Wolyniec told MLSSoccer.com. “They had the crowd and the energy behind them. I’m not sure we expected it to be quite like that.”
The Sounders earned 21 points at their Qwest Field fortress last season, which tied for most in the league. Midfielder Seth Stammler said that the form the Red Bulls showed last season in the home tie against Seattle was more indicative of how these two teams match up. True or not, Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe is ready to face a good team on the road. Seattle won its 2010 opener last Thursday night, a 2-0 defeat of Philadelphia.
“You could see that they are a good counter-attack team,” Backe said. “I think they will play the same way against us as they did against Philadelphia.”
Backe said he is impressed with the way Seattle’s Osvaldo Alonso controls the midfield tempo, and he likes Montero’s ability to score goals. But regardless of last year's results, Backe said his players this year will play their style—a style he concedes is still very much in the works. Backe said his team will strive for not just a result, but their first-ever franchise win over the Sounders.
“It’s going to be three points; we have to work with that mind set when we travel," Backe said. "It's not, 'Go for one point.' I think [that mentality] is not mentally good enough."
The atmosphere in Seattle is something special, but what are the best crowds overall in MLS? League commissioner Don Garber will rattle off Section 8 in Chicago, the bouncing stands of D.C. United and Seattle as prime examples.
Veteran forward Wolyniec, who was drafted by the then-MetroStars in 1999, has seen and experienced every environment in MLS.
“Seattle is very good," Wolyniec said. "The fans come out with their scarves, and obviously Toronto is a very intense place to play as a visitor. And I honestly think that based off the past two games there, Red Bull Arena could well be in the top three in the league if the fans continue to come out like they have.”