The New York Red Bulls haven't lost in nine straight matches (all comps), but have had a dismal record on the road. They now make their last trip against a Western Conference opponent for 2016. I caught up with Jon Szekeres of Vancouver Whitecaps' Eighty Six Forever to get his thoughts on Saturday night's game.
Once a Metro: The Whitecaps haven't won since July 13th and have given up the third most goals in the league this season. What has been a contributing factor to the slide over the last seven games?
Eighty Six Forever: The lack of attack has been a big problem. The Whitecaps got the monkey off their back with a 3-0 victory in CCL play, but then followed that up with a 0-0 draw against the Galaxy. There's nothing wrong with a draw, but the Whitecaps lack of any scoring punch has all but taken away any swagger they had. Pedro Morales has looked ineffective and may not even be on the squad last year, and on most nights, he and other high priced veterans have been outplayed by players like Nicolas Mezquida. Whether they are simply ineffective, or Head Coach Carl Robinson's game plan just isn't suiting them, this team looks about as dangerous as a declawed kitten.
OaM: Morales leads the team in goals with six, but five have come off PKs. How can Vancouver get Morales more involved in the attack? Who are other players RBNY will need to watch out for?
86F: Morales isn't really a goal scorer from free play, he's always been a guy that's padded his goal stat from the penalty spot. He's at his best when he's creating goals for other players with his pinpoint, mesmerizing passing, but that has been absent pretty much the entire season. Morales needs to be the most creative player on the pitch for Vancouver, and most nights he simply looks out of answers. Mezquida has been very good this season and NY should be wary of his speed and underrated playmaking ability.
OaM: Vancouver is in ninth place in the West, but are only four points out of the final playoff spot. RBNY has also been bleeding late goals on the road. What will be some keys to this game for Vancouver to walk away victorious?
86F: Vancouver will need to score early to gain some confidence, that is absolutely key. If the Whitecaps go a half without scoring, it's going to be even more detrimental to their team confidence. They need to score a quick one to establish themselves in the contest early. Given the attack of late though, that's a tall order.
Injuries/Omissions/International Call ups:
Jordan Harvey (injury), David Edgar (call-up), Kendall Waston (call-up), Christian Bolanos (call-up), Giles Barnes (call-up), Blas Perez (call-up)
You can see Once a Metro's responses to Eighty Six Forever's questions here. (Will update when link is available)