CCL Preview: Underprepared Red Bulls Host Vancouver

by ANTHONY J. MERCED

The preseason is all but over and an underprepared New York Red Bulls, in the words of Coach Jesse Marsch, will host the Vancouver Whitecaps in the first leg of their knockout stage series in the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday night. It will be the teams’ first meaningful and competitive game in 2017.

“We don’t feel fully prepared but there’s an urgency and an excitement,” Marsch said during the club’s media day at Red Bull Arena on Monday. “We’ll have a full complement for Wednesday night, but we’re not all totally fit and totally in shape. The only benefit is that we have Vancouver and we’re both in the same boat.”

Vancouver does have similar issues. The team is missing midfielder Christian Bolaños, who played in 27 games for the club in 2016. They will also not have the services of David Edgar, Nicolas Mezquida and Yordy Reyna. All have sustained injuries before or during the preseason.


PROJECTED STARTING XI:

Red Bulls: Robles; Zizzo, Long, Collin, Bilyeu; Felipe, Davis, Kljestan, Royer; Wright-Phillips, Verón

Vancouver Whitecaps: Ousted; Nerwinski, Watson, Parker, Harvey; Laba, Jacobson; Davies, Manneh, Barnes; Hurtado

Player to Watch: Gonzalo Verón. He has a lot to prove after a rocky tenure with the Red Bulls and a strong showing in Champions League play could be what keeps him in the line-up. Verón has looked sharp in preseason, showing his unselfishness and creativity on the ball. He will need that plus an eye for goal to give New York the edge.

X-Factor: Fredy Montero. Vancouver’s latest signing may or may not play, but he could make the difference for a Whitecaps team looking for an offensive spark. His recent signing shows that he more than likely won’t be a starter on Wednesday, but he could still be a factor during a tight game in the closing minutes.

Location: Red Bull Arena — Harrison, N.J.

Where to Watch: Univision Deportes or Facebook Live


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