Coming off the type of victory that builds confidence for bigger things to come, the New York Red Bulls seek their fifth win in six matches Wednesday night when they host the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Supporters’ Shield winners last year with 71 points, the Red Bulls (5-2-5) got off to a slow start thanks to a sputtering offense that totaled eight goals in the first seven matches. Three-time 20-goal scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips has found the back of the net just once, and coach Chris Armas has been searching for alternative sources of offense.
Enter Tom Barlow, as the substitute who scored his first MLS goal in the 65th minute to lift 10-man New York to a 1-0 victory over reigning MLS Cup champions Atlanta United on Sunday. Barlow was able to head Daniel Royer’s cross across the face of goal and inside the right post for his first career MLS goal.
Barlow, a second-round SuperDraft pick in 2018, signed with the Red Bulls earlier this month after scoring eight goals in as many matches with Red Bulls II in the USL.
“I just remember it popping out wide and Danny making the run,” Barlow recounted to the club’s official website. “When I came on, (Armas) told me to try to get in behind and I was lucky to get behind the center back. (Royer) played a perfect ball and I was able to get my head on it.”
New York has won three of its last four at home but is 4-0-3 overall at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls also have just one win in four home matches versus the Whitecaps (1-1-2), a 3-0 victory in 2017 in which current Whitecaps midfielder Felipe Martins completed the scoring.
Vancouver (3-4-6) is looking to avoid a third straight match without a win after a 1-1 draw at Sporting Kansas City on Saturday. Converted center back Derek Cornelius nicked a point for the Whitecaps in the 94th minute when he volleyed a cross from Ali Adnan from just in front of the penalty spot.
“The biggest thing is to get the point,” said Cornelius, who made the switch from forward to defender two years ago. “Ali put in a good ball, I made a good connection, and I’m glad we got the point. The team gave 110 percent today, so when everyone is stuck in and pushing for that point, we have to get points.”
The Whitecaps played with just 15 players due to a spate of injuries that have sidelined seven starters, and an eighth was added to that list when center back Doneil Henry suffered a hamstring injury that could rule him out of this contest. Martins expects to play despite suffering an ankle injury on a challenge that resulted in Kansas City’s Krisztian Nemeth being shown a straight red card.
The teams played to a 2-2 draw in Vancouver last year, with Royer and Kendall Watson recording braces. Royer gave New York a share of the points with his equalizer at the death.
(Kaku/Tim Barlow/Michael Murillo photo courtesy New York Red Bulls official Twitter account)
(Derek Cornelius photo courtesy Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports)