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Match Preview: Vancouver Whitecaps v. New York Red Bulls

Saturday afternoon the ‘Caps return home to BC Place to play host to Tim Parker and New York Red Bulls. Kick-off is scheduled for 4:00PM PDT and can be seen on TSN1/5, MSG and ESPN+.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps at Portland Timbers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

With the disappointment of Wednesday’s Canadian Championship Final behind them, Carl Robinson will have to get his ready for another key match in MLS as the ‘Caps look to keep pace in the Western Conference playoff hunt. This Vancouver Whitecaps team has shown signs of frustration boiling over before this season, so it will be important to see if they can get back on track.

Of course Saturday will mark the first time that Tim Parker returns to BC Place since March, when he was traded to New York Red Bulls for Felipe Martins, cash and an international spot. There have been plenty of opinions recently about how that deal has worked out for both teams since. Personally I think it’s pretty important to note, that the contract standoff that many thought was why Parker ‘wanted out’ of Vancouver, is yet to be sorted out for the American centre half.

Whether that was a breakdown with the front office seems a bit questionable at this point. He stated recently that he asked to leave the club, and as many clubs would not keep a player against their will, I think the ‘Caps front office was right to move him on and get a player back that they felt could impact another key area of the pitch in Felipe.

While he’s continued to be an impressive defender for Red Bulls, helping them limit their opponents to just 1.2 goals per match away from home, Parker still hasn’t signed a new contract in New York. Vancouver on the other hand added depth in the centre of the park where they were, and still are, clearly short of options.

As for the match this Saturday, it will be interesting to see how Carl Robinson sets up against a Red Bulls team that will come in and look press the ‘Caps. For a team that’s shown problems maintaining possession, keeping the turnovers to a minimum against a press will be important if Vancouver is going to get a result.

Red Bulls come to Vancouver looking to move into first place overall in the Supporters’ Shield standings, while the ‘Caps are fighting to get into the playoff places.

The Whitecaps will be without Jordon Mutch and Jose Aja who are still recovering from their respective injuries, and it will be important to see if Alphonso Davies is in the lineup or if his hip flexor issue warrants resting him. Should Davies miss out, someone else will have to provide service into Kei Kamara if the ‘Caps are going to get a result against Bradley Wright-Phillips and the New York attack.

New York on the other hand are without several long term absentees in Florian Valot, Kyle Duncan, Vincent Bezecourt and Tommy Redding.

Officials this afternoon are:

Referee: Joseph Dickerson

Assistant Referees: Jeremy Hanson, Nick Uranga

4th official: Sorin Stoica

VAR: David Barrie