Published January 08, 2015
Vancouver, BC (SportsNetwork.com) - Red Bull New York will look to defend its MLS Supporters' Shield in 2014, starting with its trip to BC Place to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
New York's Supporters' Shield triumph in 2013 was its first piece of major silverware in club history.
And the Red Bulls are well-positioned to add to their trophy cabinet after making minimal changes to a squad that helped the club finish atop the overall MLS table last term.
"It's been almost a cliche about the New York organization over the years having an overhaul in the offseason, and that's something I want to get away from," Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke told the club's official website. "We have good chemistry and a good returning core. There's no reason to mix it up just for the sake of it."
Petke, entering his second year as a head coach, likely won't have star player Thierry Henry at his disposal for the opener given the Frenchman's disdain for playing on artificial surfaces. The Red Bulls also may be without Tim Cahill after the midfielder featured for Australia in midweek international action.
That bodes well for the Whitecaps, some questions to answer as there is a major void left to fill in front of goal.
Last season saw the 'Caps hit a tailspin down the stretch, costing the club a playoff spot as well as then-manager Martin Rennie his job en route to a 13-12-9 record for seventh place in the West.
Diminutive forward Camilo Sanvezzo emerged as an offensive force for the Whitecaps as he finished with 22 goals and won the Golden Boot for the league's highest scorer.
The team looked to have found a player to build around for the future, but Camilo's tenure in the great Northwest ended strangely this offseason when the Brazilian starlet forced his way out amidst controversy and was eventually transferred to Mexican club Queretaro.
With Camilo gone, the biggest question for Vancouver this season is how the club is going to replace the Brazilian's outstanding offensive production.
The best candidates to take up Camilo's mantle at the top of the formation are Jamaican international Darren Mattocks, second-year player Kekuta Manneh, and newly-acquired youngster Matias Laba.
Also new in the fold this season is head coach Carl Robinson, who previously served as an assistant coach to Rennie.
Robinson's status as a head-coaching novice, paired with the uncertainty of where goals will come from on a regular basis, leaves plenty of questions left for the Whitecaps to answer this season.