Playing without Thierry Henry and Jamison Olave, who skipped the match due to artificial turf, Mike Petke's men were able to grind out a result.
After having the lion's share of chances in the first half, the Sounders found the breakthrough just before the half. Brad Evans attempted a cross in the box which hit the outstretched arm of Markus Holgersson, prompting Kevin Stott to award a penalty. Evans stepped up and confidently side-footed into the bottom corner to give his team the lead.
With 30 minutes to play, the visitors were nearly level after a Holgersson backwards header struck the crossbar from a David Carney free kick. Two minutes later, the post came to Seattle's rescue again, when Evans headed against his own frame off a New York corner kick.
New York did get its equalizer with 15 minutes to play. A scramble in the box left the ball to Tim Cahill and with his first touch, the Australian buried a shot in the far corner from 15 yards out.
With the result, New York moved four points clear of Sporting Kansas City atop the Eastern Conference, with one more game played. Seattle is tied for first in the West, but with two games in hand on Real Salt Lake.