After picking up their fourth win of the season, the Vancouver Whitecaps travel east to face one of the crown jewels of MLS, the New York Red Bulls. Their last matchup ended in a 2-2 draw at Empire and was the last game coached by Teitur Thordarson before he was sacked. It will also be the first match where the Caps will have to face Thierry Henry as the French striker was unable to make the trip to Vancouver due to injury.
The Whitecaps welcome back Camilo, after a one game suspension, and need him to return to the form he displayed on the wing. The Red Bulls have a weakness at the fullback position so the Brazilian will need to test it with his pace and skill.
The co-leader in the race for the MLS golden boot, Thierry Henry has been one of the few bright spots during the team’s recent struggles. The Frenchman will have to continue his goal scoring ways if they look to secure a spot in the MLS playoffs.
The Whitecaps will have to deal with the pace of Dane Richards and the job falls to Jordan Harvey on the left side. The American defender has improved his offensive game as well as he had a hand in the last two goals for the Caps.
Another player that did not play in the last meeting, Rafa Marquez is the leader of the backline for the Red Bulls. With goalkeeping being such a question mark for the club the defenders must raise their game to another level.
WHO’S ON FORM
The top performer in the midfield for the Whitecaps this year has been the youngster Gershon Koffie who despite his age has become a leader on the pitch. There have been times when his play has struggled but he is never the lowest rated player on the Caps.
Bringing speed on the wing, Dane Richards has already matched his career high for goals in a season and surpassed his assist total. The Jamaican international has been involved in the last four goals for the Red Bulls over the last two games, scoring two and assisting on two.
9th in Western Conference
Last Game: 1-0 Win vs Houston Dynamo
5th in Eastern Conference
Last Game: 2-2 Draw at New England Revolution
OUT: FW Atiba Harris (knee), GK Brian Sylvestre (knee), MF Russell Teibert (toe)
OUT: MF Carl Robinson (knee), GK Frank Rost (quad), DF Roy Miller (adductor), MF Sacir Holt (knee), FW Corey Hertzog (illness)
QUESTIONABLE: FW Luke Rodgers (foot), MF Brian Nielsen (knee)
At the beginning of the season when the schedule came out it looked as though that the pair of road games back to back against New York and LA were certain losses. However, recently it seems like the chances of getting a result against the Red Bulls have slightly improved. The team picked to run away with the Eastern Conference has now slipped to fifth with a run of three losses and three draws in their last six games.
The Whitecaps are relatively healthy and should start a similar lineup to the one that defeated the Houston Dynamo. In front of Joe Cannon, the Caps will have Rochat and DeMerit team up for the second straight match with Leathers and Harvey as the full backs. The midfield will see the return of Camilo, back from a suspension, and Salinas to the wing to go along with the central pairing of Koffie and Vagenas. The club’s two designated players, Hassli and Jarju, will try once again to find some chemistry up front.
The combination of the Red Bulls stuggling and the last two road games in LA and Dallas makes this the club’s last chance to secure a win away from Vancouver. In each of their games after a win, the Whitecaps have travelled to face an Eastern team only to come away with a loss, outscored 7-1.
In addition to Henry, the Red Bulls main strength comes from their wings with Dane Richards using his speed and Joel Lindpere using his playmaking. When on the attack the Caps will have an easier chance attacking New York’s backline from out wide as there are injury concerns for the Red Bulls. Their service for Hassli and Jarju must also improve as well as the chemistry between the two designated players.
Both clubs are coming off extended breaks with both having a scheduled bye last week but the Red Bulls haven’t played in three weeks due to a game postponed because of weather. Because of this, the team that shake off the rust quicker will have the early advantage in the game to score first. Despite New York’s struggles the Whitecaps will have to play a full 90 minute game, like last week, something they have yet to do on the road this season.