The Vancouver Whitecaps head into today’s match in New York coming off the tails of a 4-2 home win over Minnesota United FC last weekend. While this doesn’t change the fact that the ‘Caps have lost 4 of their last 6, it certainly gives them some positive momentum going into this weekend. NYCFC, on the other hand, is coming off what was perhaps one of their toughest losses of the season so far. Despite being second in the Eastern Conference, NYCFC was throughly beaten 3-1 in Seattle last weekend:
At the end of the day, it wasn’t necessarily a poor performance from NYCFC, only a poor result: “We played well the first half. We played compact,” Manager Dome Torrent said. “We defended compact. And after that, we are able to create three or four chances in the first half. But football is when you are more clinical than the opponent. That is football.”
The Whitecaps should expect an even stiffer challenge against NYCFC at Yankee Stadium, where the home side holds a record of 10-0-1 so far this season. The small pitch size often offers a distinct advantage in the Bronx. NYCFC will likely look to press high up the pitch, getting their full backs and wingers involved while retaining possession and moving the ball around. The Whitecaps Defensive lines will be forced to hold firm, something which has often been a challenge so far this season. There will be little room for the Whitecaps to get their wingers into space and therefore the ‘Caps will have to rely far more on intricate passing and combination play in order to create offensively (not exactly their forte). This match should really test Carl Robinson’s strategic might. Will he be able to adjust to the unique conditions in the Bronx or will he simply trot out the same style of football as usual?
Where: Yankee Stadium — Bronx
When: August 4th - 5 PM PT
How: TSN2, ESPN+, 1410 (Radio)
Both Kendall Waston (1 game) and Erfan Juarez (2nd of 3 games) are unavailable due to suspension for the Whitecaps. Additionally, Jordan Mutch (foot) and Ali Ghazal (leg) will be missing due to injury.
For NYCFC, Frontman David Villa is unavailable as per MLS policy for missing the All-Star Game (which seems completely absurd), Midfielder Yangel Herrera (ankle) and Defender Cedric Hountondji (hamstring avulsion) are also unavailable. Goalkeeper Sean Johnson is listed as questionable with a shoulder injury.
Who’s Worth Watching?
While NYCFC is missing their biggest attraction in David Villa, there are plenty of other quality players on the roster worth paying attention to. Maxi Moralez is not only tied as NYCFC’s leading goal scorer with eight, he also distributes the ball very well. The diminutive Argentine completed 61 passes in Seattle’s half in their 3-1 loss last weekend, the most successful passes in an opponent’s half ever by NYC player in a MLS match.
At the other end of the pitch, Swedish Defender Anton Tinnerholm provides defensive rigidity as well as a surprising offensive flair. The 2017 Allsvenskan Defender of the Year helped Malmo clinch back-to-back League titles before moving to MLS. Tinnerholm was voted NYCFC’s Etihad Player of the Month for July after scoring twice on two separate occasions, including an impressive deciding goal against Columbus.
This is the big question for the Whitecaps heading into this match. How will Carl Robinson handle the difficult travel schedule and multiple competitions on the go throughout this stretch of the schedule? “I’ve told the guys they’ll all play. There will be rotation. We’ve got to fly to the east twice and we’ve got Toronto home and away. We know it won’t be easy, but all the players will get their chance.”
Given that the Canadian Championship is the only trophy the ‘Caps have a realistic shout of winning this season, I’m guessing we may see a slightly less than full strength lineup this evening in the Bronx.
NYCFC (4-2–3-1, right to left)
GK: Sean Johnson — Anton Tinnerholm, Maxime Chanot, Alex Callens, Ben Sweat — Alex Ring, Ebenezer Ofori — Jesus Medina, Maxi Moralez, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi — Jo Inge Berget
Vancouver Whitecaps(4-4-1-1, right to left)
GK: Stefan Marinovic — Sean Franklin, Jose Aja, Doneil Henry, Marcel de Jong — Cristian Techera, Russell Teibert, Felipe, Brek Shea — Yordy Reyna, Kei Kamara
Who’s Going to Win?
As much as I would like to see the ‘Caps build on their momentum from last weekend, I can’t see NYCFC faltering for a second match in a row, especially at home with the oddly shaped pitch at Yankee Stadium playing to their favour.