Another Wednesday night match is upon us, but surprise! It’s on the road! If they ever make it there, the Vancouver Whitecaps (3-6-4) go cross-country for their third match in a week, against the New York Red Bulls (5-5-2) of New Jersey.
Where: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, NJ
When: Wednesday, May 22nd at 5 PM PST
How: TSN1, TSN4 (TV); TSN 1040 (Radio); MLS Live on ESPN+ (Internet)
Similar to Vancouver, the original “New York” side of the MLS (have they ever not played in New Jersey?) began the season poorly, mirroring the Whitecaps’ 1-4-2 in their first seven matches. Though they buried eight goals across those matches, four came in the lone victory against San Jose.
In the time since, the Red Bulls have gone a drastically different 5-1-0, climbing into sixth in the Eastern Conference. Most recently, they ended Atlanta’s five-game winning streak at home last weekend, with a stout 1-0 victory after having gone down to 10-men.
What Happened Last
In their single match of 2018, Vancouver were held by the visiting Red Bulls, 2-2. Kendall Waston headed in two goals, to equalize, then seize the lead after an early Daniel Royer goal. An 84th minute dismissal of Michael Murillo should have sealed the game for the Whitecaps, but a 90th minute, unmarked, backdoor running Royer earned New York an unlikely away draw.
All-time, the Whitecaps hold a respectable 3-2-4 record against New York, with 14 goals for and 13 against, while they’ve gone 2-1-1 at Red Bull Arena despite being level on goals at five apiece. That’ll happen when their last away match to the redubbed MetroStars was a 3-0 drubbing.
After four games in the first two weeks of May, with two more to come this week, the list of wounded Whitecaps has become understandably lengthy.
Yordy Reyna, Lass Bangoura, and now Doneil Henry are out for tonight’s match, incidentally all suffering from left hamstring injuries. Must be the left side of the pitch at BC Place; someone keep an eye on Ali Adnan.
Michael Baldisimo (ankle), Jasser Khmiri (knee), and David Norman Jr. (foot) all continue to be unavailable. Listed as Questionable on the current MLS Injury Report are Jon Erice (ankle) and Felipe (foot), the former still recovering from his knock at training and the latter as a result of the Krisztian Nemeth horrorshow tackle during the draw at Sporting Kansas City:
Incidentally, former Whitecap Tim Parker is suspended for this match, as a result of the aforementioned red card he picked up via DOGSO against Atlanta:
A little innocuous, but when you duff a ball kicked at you and put your hands on a striker as the last man back, this’ll unfortunately happen. Picking up a red card against Atlanta is normally a recipe for disaster, but this ain’t your Grandpa’s 2018 #ATLUTD as the 10-man Red Bulls notched a goal thirty minutes later and held for the victory.
As for the injured, Florian Valot (torn ACL) is definitely out, while forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (groin), defender Aaron Long (hamstring), and midfielders Vincent Bezecourt (knee) and Andreas Ivan (ankle) are all Questionable. Of those four, BWP and Long can be game-changers, where the match could arguably hinge on their respective inclusions in the roster.
Who’s Worth Watching?
Fredy Montero vs. Amro Tarek
Amro Tarek is the only defender that’s featured in all five of the Red Bulls’ most recent matches, four of which being wins. There’s been plenty of cycling, particularly with New York utilizing a five-man backline in three matches, but with Parker suspended and Long possibly missing a third consecutive match, the burden of defensive responsibility will fall primarily on Tarek.
This instability could play well for the lacking Whitecaps. They’ve been offensively anemic, with their twelve goals thus far besting only the eleven from Cincinnati. Vancouver clearly needs something positive to happen, and the absence of true centerbacks for New York will certainly be advantageous for Montero.
He’ll need to continue showing for balls, constantly, regardless of where he is on the pitch, but the trick may be to do so, thread balls to a winger, any winger, and actually create some havoc in the opposing penalty area for a change.
Who’s Going to Win?
When making my guess on an outcome in MLS, I always ask , “How bad was the travel for the away side?”, as road trips for the league are particularly brutal. For example, the distance between Vancouver and Harrison, NJ, is roughly the same distance to travel that Arsenal and Chelsea will make for the Europa League final in Baku, Azerbaijan, next week. Roughly 3,900 km.
Suffice to say, it’s a far distance to travel only made worse when things like this happen:
#VWFC flight from Kansas City has been cancelled because the plane needed some repairing. Not ideal if they’re playing tomorrow, especially with a lot of players unavailable as is. Last thing they needed was travel delays.— Kassim Khimji (@KassimKhimji) May 22, 2019
Yes, the Whitecaps initial flight was cancelled. Parity in MLS includes the limit on charter flights, apparently.
In any case, it’s not like the Whitecaps can’t get a result in New York; they have a winning record there! History counts for something, doesn’t it? Well, no, of course not, particularly when this is still the 2019 Vancouver Whitecaps, bearers of ye old gigantic roster turnover.
Recency is definitely key when it comes to performance and, again, the Red Bulls are 4-1-0 in their last five, despite having relied on a total of nine different defenders in those five games. There’s a semblance of organization amidst all the chaos. However, the club may simply be out too many regulars to secure a convincing win.
Despite the shoddy travel they’ve endured, I’m thinking the Whitecaps will at the very least gut out a 1-1 draw, with the possibility of an outright win if they’re able to score first. Let’s say Lucas Venuto slots the Vancouver goal, because it’s about damn time.
Vancouver - Crépeau; Adnan, Cornelius, Godoy, Nerwinski; Hwang, Teibert, Rose, Venuto; Ardaiz, Montero.
RBNY- Robles; Lawrence, Tarek, Nealis, Lade; Davis, Rzatkowski; Royer, Gamarra, Muyl; White.
Referee: Victor Rivas; AR1: Frank Anderson; AR2: Brian Poeschel; 4th: Ted Unkel; VAR: Jose Carlos Rivero; AVAR: Logan Brown.