HARRISON, N.J. – Sebastien Le Toux scored on his New York debut, but the Seattle Sounders' designated players came through in a 2-2 tie on a hot Sunday afternoon at Red Bull Arena.
The Frenchman found the net just 24 minutes into his first start for the Red Bulls after the club acquired him in a Friday trade. Le Toux's first-half tally canceled out an early Alvaro Fernandez goal for the visitors. Then Joel Lindpere gave the Red Bulls a deserved 2-1 lead on the hour mark, only for Fredy Montero to come off the bench and score minutes later for the 2-2 final.
The result extended the Sounders’ current unbeaten run to four games, while leaving the Red Bulls with just one win in their last seven matches. New York is now four points behind Eastern Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City and Seattle is nine behind the first-place San Jose Earthquakes in the Western Conference.
The Sounders jumped out in front in the 16th minute. Right back Adam Johansson hit a perfect cross from deep that NY right back Brandon Barklage could not track down. Fernandez raced in and hit a sliding first-time effort that new Red Bulls goalkeeper Bill Gaudette could not reach. Gaudette was starting in place of rookie Ryan Meara, who missed his first game of the year with a hip injury.
It did not take long for New York to respond. Eight minutes later Le Toux opened his scoring account with the Red Bulls. Forward Kenny Cooper hit a bending shot from outside the penalty area that Seattle goalkeeper Bryan Meredith parried into the path of a wide-open Le Toux, who finished with ease from close range.
Seattle’s speed posed problems for the Red Bulls' defense, with Eddie Johnson proving a handful for New York’s center backs. But it was the Red Bulls who were unlucky not to take a lead before the half when Markus Holgersson's header smacked off the crossbar.
The Red Bulls were the better team early in the second half with the muggy weather seemingly catching up to a Seattle squad that had also played a midweek US Open Cup semifinal and traveled cross-country.
The home side capitalized by taking a 61st minute lead when Lindpere made a run that just beat the Sounders’ offside trap. He collected a pass from Barklage and cut inside Seattle defender Jeff Parke before unleashing a low, left-footed shot to the near post.
The Sounders pulled level shortly thereafter thanks to Montero, who had entered the game following Lindpere’s goal. Seattle midfielder Brad Evans hit a low cross from the right that an open Montero one-timed into the back of the net in the 67th minute for the game’s final salvo.
The Red Bulls have a short turnaround before their next match, as they host the Chicago Fire on Wednesday afternoon. The Sounders play their next league match on the road against the Colorado Rapids on July 28, but they will first contend with UEFA Champions League winners Chelsea in the opener of the 2012 Herbalife World Football Challenge this Wednesday.