These teams have drawn all three previous matchups, and the Red Bulls are eager to go into a lengthy break on a winning note Saturday night.
All three meetings between New York (7-4-4) and Vancouver (3-4-4) have finished 1-1, and that is what Red Bulls coach Mike Petke is focusing on as opposed to the Whitecaps’ dismal 0-12-3 run on the road.
“If we were to take this team lightly this Saturday, we would be in for a rude awakening,” Petke said.
New York enters on a 5-0-2 spurt in MLS play, and hasn’t had a longer unbeaten stretch since a 7-0-2 run June 17-July 22, 2000.
The Red Bulls lead the Eastern Conference with 25 points, but have played more games than every team in MLS. They will not play a league match again until a visit to Philadelphia on June 23.
“Try to beat Vancouver and make sure that we can go on a little break with three points because a lot of teams are going to play some games and some of them will be able to catch us up or pass us,” forward Thierry Henry said.
The mood is quite different in Vancouver, with second-year coach Martin Rennie defending his job status with his team amassing the second-fewest points in the West with 13.
“We’re doing things the way (the owners have) wanted us to do them,” Rennie told the league’s official website. “They’ve got a clear philosophy on how they want things to be done and so we’re working specifically with them on that, making sure we’re following through on decisions they want us to make and we then implement into the team.”
The Whitecaps are trying to get over the disappointment of losing in the final of the Canadian championship for the fifth straight season after Wednesday’s 2-2 home draw with Montreal.
The first leg finished scoreless, so the Impact won the title by virtue of away goals. Vancouver conceded the tying goal in the 84th minute.
“There’s a lot of reflection going on right now,” goalkeeper Brad Knighton said. “There’s not much that was said in there because I think everyone’s at a loss for words, to be honest. But we’ve got a quick turnaround and we’ve got New York on the weekend.”
One positive for Vancouver was Wednesday’s return of Kenny Miller, who will likely play in his first MLS match since March 30 after being out with a hamstring injury.
The Red Bulls rested many of their key players in Tuesday’s 2-0 home win over Reading United in the U.S. Open Cup.
Tim Cahill, tied for second on New York with four goals, is not available since he is with the Australian national team.
New York rallied twice in last Sunday’s 2-2 home draw with Columbus. Henry scored his team-high sixth goal in the 31st minute and Jamison Olave added another equalizer in second-half stoppage time.