After earning a point in stoppage time on the road last weekend, the Vancouver Whitecaps have another tough challenge on their hands when they visit the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night.
The Whitecaps enter this week having earned points in four of their previous five matches, including a 1-1 road draw on Saturday against Sporting Kansas City.
Vancouver was just seconds away from being shut out for a sixth time this season before defender Derek Cornelius drilled home a volley from the top of the penalty area. It was the first goal for Cornelius in what was just his fourth MLS appearance.
“It was a performance where every one really gave their all and gave their best,” said Cornelius, a the 22-year-old native of Ajax, Ontario. “It would have been really hard to accept not getting any points in a game like this.”
Nine different players have scored for the Whitecaps this season, including three defenders. Cornelius joined Doneil Henry (two goals) and Erik Godoy as back-liners who have found the back of the net. For a team that is the lowest scoring club in the Western Conference, goals are always uplifting, especially from players who are not expected to contribute.
“[Cornelius] deserves the goal. He’s been an incredible teammate,” coach Marc Dos Santos said. “He’s understood the form Doneil and Erik are in. He’s worked in training. I love it when good people get rewarded. The guys are happy for him.”
Cornelius will likely get more minutes for the Whitecaps when they step into Red Bull Arena. Henry suffered a hamstring injury in Kansas City on Saturday and will not play. Midfielders Yordy Reyna and Lass Bangoura are already sidelined with leg injuries, and with Vancouver playing their fourth match in a span of 13 days, plenty of fresh faces can expect to see action.
“Some of the guys are not going to be fully recovered, so there will be some rotation in the roster,” Dos Santos confirmed. “Stretches like this challenge the depth that we have.”
One player listed as “questionable” but who is sure to suit up Wednesday is veteran midfielder Felipe. He played for the Red Bulls from 2015-2017 before being traded to Vancouver for defender Tim Parker. It will be the first time that Felipe has a chance to play in New Jersey since the trade and he says even if he is not fully match fit, he wants to be involved.
“When you play against your former team, it’s always extra motivation,” Felipe said. “I had an amazing time in New York, but [no]) I play for the Vancouver Whitecaps and will be looking to help my teammates get the three points.”
Parker will not have the chance to face his former club as is suspended. Parker was shown a red card in New York’s 1-0 victory over Atlanta United last Sunday.
NOTES & TIDBITS
Since entering MLS in 2011, the Whitecaps are 3-2-4 against the Red Bulls. The last time Vancouver won a game at Red Bull Arena was June 20, 2015 on a night that saw goalkeeper David Ousted stop two penalty kicks from Bradley Wright-Phillips in a 2-1 victory.
After posting just one win over their first seven matches, New York has won four of their last five. In that span, the Red Bulls have collected nine goals from nine different players.
In their lone meeting last season, the Whitecaps and Red Bulls drew 2-2 at BC Place on August 18. Daniel Royer had both goals for the visitors that day and he currently leads New York with two goals and four assists.