In the world of MLS, a slow start isn’t always a bad thing. The play-off format affords teams more leeway than is ordinary in other leagues around the world and so teams often make a habit of timing their best form to coincidence with the final stretch of the season. Look at what the Portland Timbers did last year.
The pattern seems to be repeating for the New York Red Bulls, who won just one of their opening seven league fixtures, but have recently lost just one of their last five. This Wednesday night sees them host the Vancouver Whitecaps at Red Bull Arena. Here’s a Same Game Multi for the Red Bulls and Whitecaps for you to sink your teeth into.
After a difficult start to the year, the New York Red Bulls have tightened things up at the back in recent weeks, with their best defensive performance coming in the 1-0 win over Atlanta United with 10 men at the weekend. The LA Galaxy managed to score twice at Red Bulls a couple weeks ago, but that was something of an exception. Chris Armas has his team controlling games.
On top of this, there have been under 2.5 goals scored in nine of the Vancouver Whitecaps last 10 away games in the league. The Canadians have struggled for firepower of late, scoring just twice in their last three outings (against Portland, Atlanta and Sporting KC). There’s no reason to believe they will find their scoring form against a New York Red Bulls team that will control things.
This selection is based largely on the Vancouver Whitecaps’ recent inability to find the back of the net. Fredy Montero has found some scoring form of late, scoring in back-to-back games against the Colorado Rapids and the Portland Timbers, but the Colombian has since drawn a blank in his last two outings
Indeed, the Whitecaps have struggled on their travels this season and this, a journey from one coast to the other, is one of the most strenuous travels they will make over the whole year – playing midweek against the New York Red Bulls in Harrison.
The hosts stand a good chance of scoring the first goal because the Caps might not score at all.
Their recent form suggests they will struggle to find the net.
Armas has managed to turn things around at the New York Red Bulls in recent weeks, with the Harrison outfit on track to keep up their impressive regular season form of the past few years. He has done this without Bradley Wright-Phillips, who has missed the last few weeks of action through injury. Nobody has really stepped into the Englishman’s void as a goalscorer either.
Nonetheless, the Red Bulls appear to be on the straight and narrow again. Armas has made them strong in the wide areas, threatening from set pieces and clinical in the final third of the pitch. The New York Red Bulls don’t necessarily control games through their use of the ball, but through their organisation and territorial nous. They should have too much for the Whitecaps.