For the New England Revolution, it has been better late than never in scraping out points recently. In the case of the New York Red Bulls, it feels more like never considering their last win Gillette Stadium came so long ago.
The Revolution seek to extend their 17-match home unbeaten streak over the Red Bulls when the Eastern Conference rivals meet Sunday.
New England (5-7-4) has gone 1-0-4 in its last five matches and has taken points in seven of eight, but coach Jay Heaps' team has needed to dig deep in the last two to keep this run alive. Chris Tierney helped the Revs steal a point with a goal in the 94th minute at Toronto on June 23, and Diego Fagundez also netted an equalizer - also in the 94th minute - to salvage a 2-all draw versus Seattle on June 30.
While the results have netted points to help keep New England afloat in the East, Heaps is lamenting the lost points that could have his team higher in the standings as the right side of his backline was consistently exposed in those matches.
"We feel like we're giving away games now," said Heaps, who's seen his team concede its last four goals on plays started by crosses from the left side. "We've won a couple of games in the past, but, since then, we've gotten back into giving away games and giving away points.
"When (the Red Bulls) get here, we need to do the things that we do well - move the ball quickly, get in behind and make it difficult for them to play."
The Red Bulls (9-4-4) know all about the difficulties of playing in New England, having gone 0-12-5 there since a 2-0 victory June 29, 2002, when the franchise was known as the New York/New Jersey MetroStars.
There have been recent positives for New York, though. The Red Bulls have taken points in two of the last four matchups, including a 2-all draw Aug. 20 in the most recent meeting in Foxborough on a pair of second-half goals by Dane Richards.
Like the Revs, the Red Bulls are dealing with issues on their backline, though that's due to injury. Defenders Markus Holgersson and Heath Pearce are out while Rafa Marquez is questionable with a calf injury, leaving Wilman Conde likely to make his first start on artificial turf this season.
Conde has played only four league matches because of injuries and an arrest following an alleged aggravated assault on a police officer in May, but he started June 30 versus Toronto FC and logged 82 minutes in a 1-all draw.
"I know it's turf, but it's not about me not being able to play," the Colombian central defender told the league's official website. "It's about how I recover and how it will take me a couple days more than normal because of the surgery I had, but we're prepared for that."
New York has taken points in nine of its last 10 matches but has gone 1-1-3 in its last five and not posted a clean sheet in seven.
Ryan Meara had five saves to make Thierry Henry's seventh-minute goal stand in the Red Bulls' 1-0 victory April 28, the teams' first meeting of 2012.