Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the New York Red Bulls meet for the first time when the clubs face off at Empire Field on Saturday afternoon. Whitecaps FC return to league play for the first time in two weeks, aiming to win for the first time in MLS since First Kick. The Red Bulls are coming off back-to-back draws, last at midweek against defending MLS Cup champion Colorado.
REFEREE: Mark Geiger. SAR (bench): Hector Vergara; JAR (opposite): Steven Taylor; 4th: Landis Wiley MLS Career: 81 games; FC/gm: 26.6; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 15; pens: 27
INJURY REPORT: VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC - OUT: FW Atiba Harris (R knee surgery); FW Long Tan (R foot contusion); MF John Thorrington (R calf strain) …
NEW YORK RED BULLS – OUT: MF Carl Robinson (R knee contusion); DF Chris Albright (hernia surgery); FW Thierry Henry (R knee swelling)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: NY: Rafael Marquez (Mexico); Dane Richards (Jamaica)
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: VAN: Terry Dunfield … NY: Luke Rodgers
ALL-TIME: First meeting.
RETURN MATCH: 9/10: New York Red Bulls vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 7:30 p.m. ET
• Coaches record: Hans Backe vs. VAN: first game … Teitur Thordarson v NY: first game
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
Vancouver Whitecaps FC return to MLS play after a weekend off, their last league match a 1-0 loss to the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on May 14. Whitecaps FC have 8 points from 11 matches, sitting in ninth place in the Western Conference.
• The game's lone goal came four minutes after halftime. Benny Feilhaber collected a loose ball just inside the Vancouver penalty area and was taken down by Wes Knight. From the resulting penalty, Shalrie Joseph coolly slotted home into the lower left hand corner.
• Whitecaps FC head coach Teitur Thordarson made five changes to the team that came back for a 1-1 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes at Empire Field. Jay DeMerit, Blake Wagner, Gershon Koffie, Russell Teibert, Omar Salgado and Long Tan came into the team, for Greg Janicki, Alain Rochat, Terry Dunfield, Davide Chiumiento, Camilo and Eric Hassli.
• VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC (4-4-2): Jay Nolly - Wes Knight, Jay DeMerit (Greg Janicki 64), Mouloud Akloul, Blake Wagner - Shea Salinas, Gershon Koffie, Jeb Brovsky, Russell Teibert (Davide Chiumiento 79) - Long Tan, Omar Salgado (Nizar Khalfan 75).
• While Whitecaps FC again have two games in a short turnaround – with yet another trip across three time zones – they were able to get some time off between two legs of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship.
• “[The time off] must have been fantastic for the players,” Thordarson said. “The program they have been through now has been absolutely horrendous. It’s very, very tough.”
• With a look ahead to the two games against Toronto FC in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship, Thordarson ran out a team full of reserves against New England.
• “I expected a tough game, absolutely,” Thordarson said. “[But] I think the team performed fantastically well with these younger players on board. I’m very happy with the young guys.”
• After scoring seven goals in their first three games, Whitecaps FC has scored just five goals in the last eight league contests.
• "We didn’t create too many goalscoring opportunities, but we had some of them, especially in the first half. That was basically the same with New England. They had a lot of dangerous corners and free kicks, and we knew that’s what they’re good at,” Thordarson said. “We kept our heads up and continued to play, but unfortunately, we didn’t manage to create too many goal chances, and they were given a penalty."
• Jay DeMerit started against New England, his first appearance in the first XI since playing the first half April 10 vs. Houston. He then played the first half in the first NCC game vs. Toronto FC, his first 90-minute performance since First Kick.
• “We decided before that he would play 60 to 65 minutes (against Toronto),” said Thordarson. “It was very nice to see him get through that. Not only did he do well individually, but he kept the backline together and pushed the people in front of him also very well.”
• On Wednesday, the second leg of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship final was abandoned after 61 minutes due to heavy rain and lightning at BMO Field. Eric Hassli had given Vancouver a lead in the first half, but the game was first delayed at the halftime break, then shortly after the hour mark.
• Under NCC rules the game must be replayed in its entirety, the replay date set for July 2 at BMO Field. The clubs will play earlier that week (Wednesday, June 29 at 7:30 p.m.) in a regularly scheduled MLS encounter. The aggregate score is still tied 1-1 after TFC’s win May 18 in Vancouver; the winner claims the Voyageurs Cup and the CONCACAF Champions League berth that comes along with it.
• “We’re disappointed, of course,” said Thordarson. “The advantage that we had gotten this game doesn’t count, so that is obviously unfair. As far as the conditions, that is the referee’s decision and we have to respect that.”
• In the first leg at Empire Field, Eric Hassli scored in the 64th minute for Whitecaps FC, but Maicon Santos leveled terms nine minutes later.
• Here’s the lineup from the first leg: Jay Nolly; Jonathan Leathers, Greg Janicki, Jay DeMerit, Alain Rochat; Shea Salinas (Russell Teibert 83), Terry Dunfield, Gershon Koffie, Davide Chiumiento; Camilo (Nizar Khalfan 78), Eric Hassli (Omar Salgado 74)
NEW YORK RED BULLS
The New York Red Bulls played to a second consecutive draw, another 2-2 result, with the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday evening at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls have 17 points from 11 games, now sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference.
• All four goals were scored in a six-minute span. Colorado took the lead in the 27th minute via the penalty spot. Rapids forward Andre Akpan was fouled by Red Bulls left back Roy Miller and referee Jorge Gonzalez quickly pointed to the spot. New York goalkeeper Greg Sutton saved Jeff Larentowicz’s penalty kick, but the rebound went back to the Colorado midfielder, who coolly side-footed it home.
• The Red Bulls answered just two minutes later. Joel Lindpere fed a ball to a streaking Dwayne De Rosario at the top corner of the penalty area. The Canadian international slid a pass into the center of the box and to a wide-open Thierry Henry, who lashed a shot past Matt Pickens.
• Colorado regained the lead in the 33rd minute. This time, Larentowicz hit from a free kick from 25 yards out on the right flank, his low shot sailing across the penalty area, through the wall and past Sutton.
• The Red Bulls didn’t stay behind long, equalizing a minute later when Roy Miller’s threaded ball into the left side of the area was chipped by Luke Rodgers over an on-rushing Pickens.
• Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe made two changes to the team that came back for a 2-2 tie with the Houston Dynamo at Robertson Stadium. Mehdi Ballouchy came into the midfield for Dane Richards, and Thierry Henry returned to the side for Juan Agudelo.
• NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-3-1-2): Greg Sutton - Jan Gunnar Solli, Tim Ream, Carlos Mendes, Roy Miller, Mehdi Ballouchy, Teemu Tainio, Joel Lindpere - Dwayne De Rosario - Thierry Henry (Juan Agudelo 87), Luke Rodgers.
• The four goals in a six-minute span was the second-quickest four-goal stretch in MLS history, one minute short of the record set in a Houston-San Jose match in 2009.
• While the Red Bulls have scored two goals in each of their last three games, they’ve allowed seven in the same stretch – after allowing just three in the first eight games of the season.
• "We’re not in the best run with losing to Chivas and tying two games. I think mentally when you have bad days, if you can pick up points it’s OK until you get into a good run again,” Backe said. “We were thinking of gambling a little bit in the last 15 to 20 minutes or something, but we said mentally if you lose another game at home it’s better to pick up the point and just keep going since it’s still early in the season."
• The Red Bulls held some 62 percent of the ball against Colorado, though they faced a season-high 10 shots against, and goalkeeper Greg Sutton made a season-high eight saves.
• “When you control the game like that and you get into the attacking third, it is small, small details,” Backe said. “It has to be more creative to break down teams that sit back.” Said Mehdi Ballouchy: “I think what’s missing, to be honest, is movement off the ball. If you watch Barcelona play, they touch, touch, touch. Even at the top of the box, they are patient. We need more patience.”
• The Red Bulls conceded a fourth goal from a set piece in the last three games against Colorado, with another starting with the penalty kick. They’ve allowed five goals on deadball situations out of 10 total on the year.
• “Stupid goals; silly little goals (we conceded). As soon as we cut that off, we’ll be winning games again,” said Luke Rodgers. “We’re not far off; we’re a good team – everyone can see that, scoring goals. I think everyone’s confident. These things happen; it’s how you recover from it and move on to the next game."
• Thierry Henry scored for the sixth time in his last six appearances; he missed the Houston match on May 21 to a right knee injury that is still bothering him.
• "I am not great," Henry said to the Daily News. "I played with it. I couldn't actually shoot properly, even though I did score. To go out there, I don't know if it was the smart thing to do."
• The Red Bulls, already missing Dane Richards and Rafael Marquez to international duty for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, will also be without Mehdi Ballouchy, who has visa issues and cannot enter Canada.