The Vancouver Whitecaps are trying to overcome a late-season slump as they compete for their first Supporters’ Shield, while New York City FC appears to coming on in the nick of time in its late bid for a playoff spot.
These teams meet for the first time Saturday night at BC Place.
Vancouver (15-11-3) leads the Western Conference and is in the thick of the race for the Supporters’ Shield. The Whitecaps’ spot atop the conference is far from secure, however, with four teams within four points, including FC Dallas and Los Angeles, both one back.
Vancouver hasn’t impressed lately, either, taking two lumps from last year’s Supporters’ Shield winner, Seattle. The Whitecaps lost 3-0 at home last Saturday in league play, then 3-0 at Seattle in CONCACAF Champions League action Wednesday.
Last weekend’s loss snapped a four-match home winning streak. The Sounders have accounted for two of the Whitecaps’ five home defeats this season.
"I think we have a great opportunity to finish in the top two and potentially win the Supporters’ Shield," defender Jordan Harvey told the team’s official website. "The last couple games were disappointing but we need to refocus and understand that we have a lot, a lot to play for."
Coach Carl Robinson has the benefit of a more complete roster with defender Matias Laba returning after a two-game suspension. Regular starters Pedro Morales, Darren Mattocks and Steven Beitashour have been banged up but practiced Thursday and have a shot to play.
New York City FC (9-14-7) is in a much more desperate position, trailing Montreal by five points for the East’s final playoff spot with four matches left.
"We cant afford to drop any points," defender Shay Facey told the team’s official website. "We need to come away with all three (points) out of the last four of our games."
NYCFC appears to be picking up steam, though, winning its last two matches, the most recent a 3-2 home victory over San Jose last Saturday. David Villa scored his 16th goal and 13th in 15 games since June 13 – tied with Los Angeles’ Robbie Keane for the most in that span.
"He looked really focused tonight," coach Jason Kreis said after the win. "He was intent on making things happen and doing whatever he could for the team."
New York has gone 0-4-1 in its last five on the road, giving up 11 goals in the past four.