HARRISON, NJ - JULY 15: Roy Miller #7 of the New York Red Bulls is knocked from the ball against Adam Johansson #5 of the Seattle Sounders at Red Bull Arena on July 15, 2012 in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
The difference in the Seattle Sounders play with Adam Johansson at right back is significant. While it is most clear in his two assists, his defense in the closing moments is also notable. The energy from Seattle was clear and the ability of Johansson to overlap a more defensive than usual right mid (Brad Evans) helped create many opportunities for the Swede to feed the ball into the box.
Early in the game the Sounders used strong play by Eddie Johnson to force Hans Backe to pull Rafael Marquez from the game. It was a cross by Johansson to the far post which Alvaro Fernandez knocked in that scored the first goal of the match. For the next 45 minutes of play New York Red Bulls would charge back.
The defensive change of Wilman Conde for Rafa limited EJ's opportunities and pushed the game to New York's favor. The home team put constant pressure on young keeper Bryan Meredith putting him in tough situations. Sebastien Le Toux knocked in a Meredith block to tie the score at half, while in the second half Joel Lindpere would slot a near post goal past him.
While Seattle's first sub was to put in Montero for Mauro Rosales, the other two were to hold the road point by strengthening a defense that struggled as the game lasted. Returning to the double left back technique helped Marc Burch's positioning and hid his weaknesses that were exploited earlier in the game.
When Fredy Montero came on it reinvigorated the offense. His tapper to score the second goal and tie the game was created through right sided interplay. The asymmetrical shape of Seattle was created through Johansson and Evans. It caused particular troubles for Roy Miller.
Merely a road point, the Sounders are undefeated in their last four MLS matches, but only gained six points. Their last two Cup games were also MLS teams and a positive sign of recovery from the slide could include those matches as well. Some of the results were earned by playing for a draw, but Sunday's match was about playing for the win.
In the first 25 minutes or so it worked. The tide turned with a sub that helped Red Bull and again when one helped Seattle. It may only be a draw, but it was one that shows some signs for the future.