Harrison, NJ – Red Bull New York, winless in its last seven Major League Soccer regular season matches, should have a very good chance to pick up a win on Saturday when it hosts Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Red Bull Arena.
The last-place Whitecaps have endured a tough debut season in MLS. They have the lowest point total in the league, accumulating only 21 points through 26 games.
While New York has fared much better over the course of the season, it has hit a rough patch of late, going 0-3-4 in its last seven matches. The club has now fallen to fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 32 points on the season, eight points adrift of the first place Columbus Crew.
Despite the disparity in the standings between New York and Vancouver, three points is not a foregone conclusion for the Red Bulls, as the Whitecaps possess one of the most potent offensive players in the league.
Eric Hassli is tied for third in MLS scoring with ten goals on the year, and could prove to be a threat to a leaky New York defense that has conceded 37 goals in its 26 games.
Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe said the game plan regarding Hassli will be to try and deny him the ball.
"I think it's more before he reaches the ball, that we have to be good and defend well," Backe told MLSsoccer.com. "That's the key, that they can't feed him with too easy passes, we need to make it difficult for them to find him."
Containing Hassli might prove to be a bit more difficult than anticipated, as New York could be without its two preferred outside backs for the tilt with Vancouver.
Roy Miller is definitely out after suffering a right abductor strain, while Jan Gunnar Solli said this week that he may move into the midfield to replace the suspended Teemu Tainio.
"I've almost been playing 29 games in a right back position," Solli said. "If they want to test me centrally in the field, I'm up for the challenge."
Vancouver and New York met earlier this season at Empire Field on May 28, playing to a 1-1 draw. Hassli put the 'Caps in front with a 24th minute penalty kick, but Luke Rodgers equalized for the Red Bulls just ten minutes later.