Amid a stretch of three games in eight days, the Vancouver Whitecaps head to Red Bull Arena, to take on the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday (8 pm ET | TSN — Full TV & streaming info). For head coach Marc Dos Santos, there’s forward progress from Vancouver earning points in four of their last five games. But their opponent takes matters one step further, with the Red Bulls securing wins from four of their last five games.
New York’s 1-4 stretch from late March through late April, Dos Santos said, hardly characterizes their group.
“There are teams that culturally are strong and people go crazy when they have three games in a row without winning, but they’re always there and always strong at the end – like Sporting Kansas City, like Atlanta or even a New York Red Bull,” Dos Santos said. “New York Red Bull at Red Bull Arena has a tradition of being strong. It’s a team that’s very aggressive in their play, very aggressive in their model.”
That respect was echoed by Felipe, who spent his 2015-17 seasons with the Eastern Conference side. He said New York’s win this past weekend, 1-0 over Atlanta with 10 men and Tom Barlow scoring his first MLS goal, aptly sums up the club.
But on a personal level, there’s an extra push for the Brazilian. It will be his first match back at Red Bull Arena since being traded to Vancouver on March 2, 2018.
“When you play against your former team, it's always extra motivation,” the hard-nosed midfielder said. “I had an amazing time in New York. I will always be thankful for the time I had there. I still have a lot of friends, it will be nice to see them, but I play for the Vancouver Whitecaps. I will be looking, for sure, for the three points and to help my teammates and go back home to Vancouver.”
During this busy stretch, Vancouver is also coping with a host of injuries, with Felipe himself questionable alongside Jon Erice. Dos Santos noted that Doneil Henry, Yordy Reyna and Lass Bangoura are all out with hamstring strains, though are working their way back to full health.
In other words, expect a Whitecaps XI that’s a shade or two away from full strength.
“There will be some rotation in the roster,” Dos Santos said. “That’s going to be important. We always said everyone is going to be important in stretches like this. It challenges the depth we have and the type of character we have.