If there is such a thing as a must-win game in MLS at the end of May, the New York Red Bulls' visit to the Vancouver Whitecaps today certainly fails into that category. After taking just three points from the last four games and shipping eight goals over that stretch, New York has to get back to winning ways on this trip to one of the worst teams in the league.
The Whitecaps are having a difficult first season in MLS, as after winning their first ever game in the top flight on opening day, they have failed to pick up another league victory and are currently in second from bottom in the overall table. Although they've scored a few key late goals, Vancouver also have one of the worst defenses in the league, and surely the Red Bulls can put enough past them to make up for the inevitable stupid goals off of set pieces.
Fortunately for New York, the Whitecaps have had a very odd few days. Their last league game was back on May 14, a 1-0 away loss to the New England Revolution, and they were slated to play the second leg of the Canadian Championship Final against Toronto FC on Wednesday. Vancouver were 1-0 ahead after an early goal by Eric Hassli, but the match was called off after 60 minutes because of heavy rain.
Originally the game was supposed to be replayed (from the start, with the second leg score 0-0) on Thursday morning, but the pitch was not in good enough condition the following day either, so the match was postponed until July 2. Basically, Vancouver have had a bizarre week, which may have disrupted their preparations for today's game.
The team news for the Red Bulls is...bad. Thierry Henry's knee injury has kept him from traveling to Vancouver, and Chris Albright and Carl Robinson are both long-term absentees. Mehdi Ballouchy has visa issues and is not allowed to travel to Canada. According to MLSSoccer.com, Rafael Márquez and Dane Richards are the only Red Bulls players who have already gone to join their national teams for the Gold Cup, which should mean that Dwayne De Rosario, Tim Ream, and Juan Agudelo will be available for selection. But the MLS site has been wrong before. For the Whitecaps, Atiba Harris is the only key player who will miss out.
Kickoff is at 5:30 PM, and the game is on MSG for everyone who isn't burned out after the Champions League Final. You know what I'm going to say next: live match thread, here, join in, etc. C'mon you Red Bulls.