After three weeks off, the New York Red Bulls return to this business of kicking a spherical white ball around a grassy field tonight against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Red Bull Arena. Vancouver is sitting an impressive last in MLS, making them just the kind of team that New York will probably underestimate and fail to beat.
On the injury front, Frank Rost is still out, meaning that Bouna Coundoul will backstop the clownish procession to a draw in goal. (That didn't make sense, did it? Whatever.) Teemu Tainio is suspended, but Luke Rodgers could make a cameo appearance if Hans Backe is desperate to have him re-injure his foot and miss the remainder of the season.
The star for Vancouver will be Eric Hassli, of breaking Seattle hearts fame. Atiba Harris will definitely miss out for the Whitecaps, while John Thorrington is listed as "questionable." Just about the only important thing in this game is Thierry Henry's quest for the MLS Golden Boot: Henry is tied with Landon Donovan on 12 goals, although LA have played two games more than New York. Hassli is tied for third with Brek Shea; both have 10 goals. You roll your eyes, but I have to find something to cheer about this season.
A brief personal note: this will be my last Red Bulls' home game until next August. I'm going to be spending the next year studying in London, so you'll probably see more writing from the rest of our team. But don't worry -- 12:30 AM GMT kickoffs won't keep me away completely.
Red Bulls: Bouna Coundoul; Jan Gunnar Solli, Tim Ream, Carlos Mendes, Chris Albright, Stephane Auvray, Rafael Márquez, Joel Lindpere, Dax McCarty, Dane Richards, Thierry Henry
Bench: Alex Horwath, Stephen Keel, Mehdi Ballouchy, Matt Kassel, Juan Agudelo, Luke Rodgers
Whitecaps: Joe Cannon, Jordan Harvey, Alain Rochat, Jay DeMerit, John Thorrington, Camilo, Peter Vagenas, Gershon Koffie, Shea Salinas, Davide Chiumiento, Eric Hassli
Bench: Jay Nolly, Michael Boxall, Jonathan Leathers, Jeb Brovsky, Mustapha Jarju, Long Tan, Omar Salgado
You can find Whitecaps perspective at 86 Forever.
Kickoff is at 7:30, and you can watch the game on MSG+ if you're not heading out to the Cathedral of Football. Here's to more spectacular underachievement!