Sounders-Red Bulls Preview
By MATT BEARDMORE
(AP) -- New York Red Bulls coach Hans Backe is frustrated by his team's recent results and rash of injuries.
But with three starters expected back and the club making two trades to help its playoff push, those feelings could start to change.
Forward Sebastien Le Toux could make his Red Bulls debut Sunday in a matchup with the visiting Seattle Sounders, who could have Michael Gspurning back in net.
After watching New York - minus six regulars - lose 2-0 at New England last Sunday, Backe didn't mince words when discussing his team's injury woes and 1-3-2 record since reeling off five straight victories.
"It's annoying," he told the Red Bulls' official website. "We haven't played two games in a row with a full-strength team. ... These guys played quite good 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 can't pick up wins as we did earlier (in the year with so many injuries)."
The Red Bulls, 5-0-2 at home, remain without All-Star Heath Pierce (hamstring), fellow defender Jan Gunnar Solli (hamstring) and midfielder Teemu Tainio (ACL). All-Star striker Thierry Henry, Rafa Márquez and defender Markus Holgersson also missed last Sunday's match due to injuries, but they're likely to return as New York kicks off a stretch of three home games in seven days.
"I want to play the three games and see how it is, but you also got to think in terms of injuries," Henry said.
The addition of Le Toux gives the Red Bulls (9-5-4) some protection up front in case of more injuries. Le Toux, the Sounders' first-ever signing, was acquired from Vancouver on Friday for midfielder Dane Richards and allocation money.
"Sebastien is one of the premier attacking players in the league and someone who we have admired for a long time," New York general manager Erik Soler said. "He will be able to play a number of different positions and will be an important piece for us as we challenge for the MLS Cup this year."
The Red Bulls also acquired goalkeeper Bill Gaudette from Los Angeles on Friday for a second-round supplemental draft pick. Gaudette will serve as Ryan Meara's backup.
The Sounders' goalkeeping issues may have been solved as Gspurning, 5-1-1 with a 0.46 goals-against average and three shutouts, could make his long-awaited return. He hasn't played since injuring his hip midway through a 2-0 victory over Los Angeles on May 2.
With the Austrian sidelined, Brian Meredith and Andrew Weber have gone a combined 3-4-5 in league games.
Meredith made two saves in a 2-1 victory over Colorado on July 7 to help Seattle (8-5-6) end a franchise-record, nine-game winless stretch in MLS play.
The Sounders are 3-0-2 in their last five matches overall following a 4-1 victory over Chivas USA in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday. They'll go for an unprecedented fourth consecutive title in that tournament Aug. 8 at Sporting Kansas City.
New York and Seattle split two meetings last season, with the home team winning both.
Updated July 14, 2012