Can it get much worse? Another loss has the New York Red Bulls in an ugly spot with just three matches left in the season. Still without a win since August, Red Bulls fans can only thank the Montreal Impact for losing six of their last seven, continually stunting their inevitable jump into sixth place.
There were a few positives to take away from the 4-2 loss to Toronto FC. Forward Daniel Royer started his first match since his injury against NYCFC, scoring a penalty in the process. His ability to go a full 90 minutes was a very welcoming sign for Red Bulls fans and teammates as the Austrian was sorely missed during his absence. Jesse Marsch will need him now more than ever if the team hopes to finish the season in a convincing manner.
The other positive came in the form of a Gonzalo Veron goal from open play. Often scoring from the penalty spot this season, it was very encouraging to see the Argentine slip in behind the defense and slot the ball past the keeper. His impact off the bench will be even more vital in the coming weeks as the Red Bulls aim for a playoff spot.
Tyler Adams also continued his form after scoring a brace against DC United, assisting Veron on his goal. The youngster has grown into quite the player over the course of the season and looks to have benefited greatly from the departure of Dax McCarty. His contribution to the offensive side of the game is a welcoming sign in a Red Bull team that often lacks firepower.
Unfortunately for New York, their opposition is having a phenomenal season in the West. The Vancouver Whitecaps have lost just once in their last nine matches and do not look to be slowing down. They sit first place in the Western Conference and, being just four points ahead of three teams in second place, will be coming to New York looking for glory.
The Whitecaps are led this season by veteran Freddy Montero. The Colombian not only leads the team in goals and assists, but is a vital part of the team’s system and has the ability to change the game in an instant. Fortunately for the Whitecaps, Montero was not called up to the Colombian national team squad for their upcoming qualifiers. A couple of other players were, though, and it could play a big part in this match.
Both defender Kendall Watson and midfielder Yordy Reyna will miss the match against the Red Bulls due to international call ups. Watson is arguably the bigger miss as he is a staple in the Whitecaps backline and is a force to have in defense. Reyna will be equally missed, however, as the Peruvian is coming off a phenomenal month of September where he scored three goals and notched two assists.
This could be a perfect time for 16 year old Alphonso Davies to step up and make a difference. After an incredible Gold Cup, the Canadian settled down in the MLS and has since made little impact for the Whitecaps. With Reyna on international duty, the spot of creator could be left to Davies to fill. This is an area of the pitch the Red Bulls continually struggle to shut down, so his influence on the match could be monumental.
Though the Red Bulls have been pretty solid at home this season, Vancouver has been even better on the road. Their 20 points from away matches is the third best in the league, so they will be coming into this match with high hopes and even higher expectations. A draw from New York would almost be acceptable in this situation, but being so close to dropping out of playoff contention, the club will need to go all out for a win.
It seems almost inevitable at this point that the Red Bulls finish in 6th place. They have not shown any real threat to the league since making the MLS Cup Final and seem set on just coasting into the playoffs. With possible first round matchups against Atlanta United, the Chicago Fire or the Columbus Crew, New York is not exactly giving themselves much room for error. A win against Vancouver would be a great place to start if the club wants to show the rest of the league they mean business.