After a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals between the New York Red Bulls and Vancouver Whitecaps, we head to the West coast for the second leg. The Whitecaps have the advantage due to their away goal, which forces RBNY to at least score once to have a chance at advancement.
Similar to last week, I spoke with Jon Szekeres from Eight Six Forever to get his thoughts on the second leg of the CCL quarterfinals:
Once a Metro: Vancouver didn't have too much bite on offense in the 1st leg. It seemed like they lived & died on the counter attack and Luis Robles only had to make two saves. Do you expect any tactical changes to get forward more against RBNY?
Eight Six Forever: I would expect the Whitecaps to be more dangerous just because their roster has improved by leaps and bounds. On Thursday, there's a chance Brek Shea and Fredy Montero could both lace them up, a major upgrade from the last time these two teams met, when Erik Hurtado played 63 minutes. As well, the veteran Mauro Rosales has been signed, and with injuries to major, impact players in the midfield (Nicolas Mezquida, Christian Bolanos, Yordy Reyna) I wouldn't be surprised to see Robinson throw him into the mix as well.
OaM: Related to the first question, the tactics of a 2nd leg quarterfinal match will differ wildly from a full regular season. What sort of changes will Vancouver need to make to compete with the strong Western Conference, both offensively and defensively?
ESF: The Whitecaps were a terrible attacking club last season, and their backline struggled because of it. With the aforementioned additions to the roster, plus the important addition of Sheanon Williams at Right Back in the off-season, the Whitecaps should be a better club than last season. Carl Robinson's game plan involves a quick counter attack, long passes to spring forwards, and relying on the speed of their youth. When Robinson has the players to do this, his game plan is generally successful. I don't see Robinson changing much heading into his fourth year at the helm of the Whitecaps.
OaM: Three penalty kick saves against the Red Bulls in their last two games (both at Red Bull Arena). How does David Ousted do it??
ESF: The man could be the most underrated player in the league. He's called the Great Dane for a reason! He struggled when he first came to the Whitecaps in 2013, but he really found his game in 2014, and hasn't looked back since. Most nights, his rock-steady play was the only thing keeping the toothless Whitecaps in matches.
Injuries: Yordy Reyna, Christian Bolanos, Nicolas Mezquida, David Edgar
Suspended: Cristian Techera
Editor’s note: a big time trade was made last week for Vancouver, sending Giles Barnes to Orlando City in return for Brek Shea. It is possible that Shea could see some time in the CCL match, but Barnes will definitely be unavailable.
Lineup: Ousted, Williams, Parker, Waston, Harvey, Laba, Teibert, Davies, Manneh, Rosales, Montero
Projected score: A lot of new parts could mean some early problems for the Whitecaps, but here's hoping they figure it out. 2-1 Whitecaps
Unfortunately for local RBNY fans, the match will not begin until 10pm eastern Thursday March 2nd. The stream is available at concacaf.com or on Facebook Live. Let’s hope the boys can pull it out north of the border.