The Red Bulls head north of the border to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps this weekend.
New York Red Bulls: Thierry Henry returned to the Red Bull lineup against the Colorado Rapids and, of course, he scored. The Frenchman has been phenomenal in recent months, tallying six goals in the last six matches. Also, by drawing with Colorado, New York confirmed a trait that emerged in the previous match against the Houston Dynamo in its ability to rebound after conceding. Twice in the past week the Red Bulls have battled back from deficits in order to gain points from matches that could have ended in defeat.
Vancouver: Eric Hassli scored yet another goal for the Caps on Wednesday night (too bad it doesn’t count). He’s finally finding his form in MLS and coming in off the right on to his left foot seems to be the key. With such size he should be able to make himself room to shoot but the Whitecaps in general have been reluctant to have a go from distance. Let’s hope Hassli’s goal on Wednesday is a reminder that if you don’t shoot you don’t score.
New York: The resiliency of New York is commendable, but it’s impossible to look past the fact that the club is yet to win in the month of May. The Red Bulls soared in April, posting a record of 3-1-1, but that string of matches has been followed by one defeat and three losses. During the recent rough patch, the defense, once impregnable, has become extremely shaky, leaking eight goals in May after only allowing two goals during the first seven matches of 2011.
Vancouver: The Whitecaps had just spent a week recovering from a busy schedule when Mother Nature went and ruined it. The Whitecaps Canadian Championship in Toronto was rained out on Wednesday at the 61 minute mark and was rescheduled for the next day. That next day came and went and BMO field was still under water. The game has been rescheduled for July 2 but the Whitecaps won’t be happy about making a meaningless midweek trip across Canada.
New York: The Gold Cup will completely alter Hans Backe’s preferred eleven for the next month or so. Rafa Márquez, Dane Richards, Tim Ream, Dwayne De Rosario, and Juan Agudelo, traditional picks in the Swede’s lineups, will all be away. It’s doubtful that Backe will change from the 4-4-2 with Luke Rodgers and Henry still available, but the forward line and goalkeeper are the only easily predicted positions. Mehdi Ballouchy and Carlos Mendes will appear as starters in the midfield and central defense, respectively, against the Whitecaps. However, the other replacements are still up in the air.
Vancouver: New York is a strange team. For a team with so much skill it often resorts to long defense busting balls from the back. It works sometimes, but sometimes Rafa Marquez is behind the play. Rafa is part of the long list of quality players that won’t be at the game due to Gold cup call ups. My predicted Whitecaps squad featured Nolly, Knight, Akloul, Demerit, Rochat, Salinas, Brovsky, Koffe, Chiumiento, Hassli, Camilo.
New York: The artificial turf of Empire Field will pose some difficulties for Backe. New York heavily relies on Henry at the moment, but the wearing surface could be detrimental to the banged up star. The Gaul is in line for some rest, but the Red Bulls need to get off their slide in order to create some momentum heading into June. If Henry plays, his time will likely have to be limited.
Vancouver: Whitecaps fans are quite upset to not be able to see Rafa Marquez. One of MLS' big names is off to the Mexico Gold Cup training camp in Seattle despite other teams holding their players back for a day or two to get one last match in. All will be forgotten if the Whitecaps win though.
Avery Raimondo: Considering the struggles of Vancouver, the Red Bulls might have found the perfect opponent to help undo their woes of late. I expect a RBNY victory with goals coming from Henry and Joel Lindpere.
Trevor Leach: New York is a quality squad that hasn’t been playing very well. Thierry Henry is scoring buckets of goals but buckets of goals are going the other way as well. If the Whitecaps can outscore their problems they can get the draw. 2-2
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