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Vancouver Whitecaps rally for 2-2 draw against New York Red Bulls

HARRISON, N.J. — The cross-country flight and subsequent delays that resulted in a 3 am arrival in New Jersey Wednesday clearly had no ill effect on the Vancouver Whitecaps, who rallied to earn a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. 

“It’s an important one,” Whitecaps coach Marc dos Santos said. “And if we just look at the game it’s one thing, but then we accumulate that in the last 10 days — Portland home, Atlanta home, in Sporting Kansas City and now in New York. It’s difficult. It’s four very good teams that demanded a lot from us physically so considered everything we’re happy with the point, but the positive thing that we’re going to take really is  our approach coming in in the second half.”

With the Whitecaps in a 5-4-1 formation, the Red Bulls had more of the ball and pressed for the early goal. Their best early chance came from Derrick Etienne Jr., who was played in by an inch-perfect Kaku cross. The Haitian international cut to the outside of Brett Levis, but his low shot rolled just wide of the far post in the 11th minute.

Against the run of play and off a defensive miscue, the Whitecaps (3-6-5, 14 points) took the lead in the 29th minute. Sean Nealis mistimed a clearance, allowing Joaquin Ardaiz to intercept the ball before cutting the ball back to create space.

His cross deflected off Kyle Duncan, but found Scott Sutter at the back post and the right back fired under the crossbar for his first goal for the Whitecaps.

It was one of several dangerous counter-attacking opportunities the Whitecaps had.

“Their pressure is very aggressive,” Dos Santos said. “They have this way of being that they’re all in and their offensive marking is aggressive so we wanted to exploit the space in behind using Ardaiz or in the second half also [Fredy] Montero and [Lucas] Venuto.”

The Red Bulls (5-5-3, 18 points) equalized eight minutes later on Brian White’s third goal of the season. Amro Tarek got on the end of a chipped Kaku cross and headed toward the goal. White followed with a glancing header to level the game.

“I was just trying to stay alive in the box and pick up anything that kind of falls to me and Amro headed it right at me,” White said. “I just wanted to flick it on, redirect it in case anyone was on the line and ultimately it worked out.”

Outside of the goal and the early chance, the Red Bulls lacked dangerous opportunities in the box. Part of the game plan was to attack the space, especially inside the 18-yard box against a team that has conceded seven penalty kicks on the season.

But they struggled to execute the plan.

“I haven’t seen the stat sheet, but I can’t even imagine how many crosses we had and they’re outside the 18,” Luis Robles said. “And one thing that’s very frustrating, at least from my vantage point, is there’s time and space. So the very thing that we spoke about, that was part of our game plan we didn’t do and to me that’s the frustrating part.”

The Whitecaps nearly had their second lead of the game in the 53rd minute on a quick counter as PC picked out an open Felipe. The former Red Bulls midfield linchpin headed on frame from the edge of the six-yard box and the ball deflected off Luis Robles’ hands and the post before a desperation clearance by Omir Fernandez.

May 22, 2019; Harrison, NJ, USA; Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Scott Sutter (23) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal in the first half against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Bulls rookie then started the sequence that led to the Red Bulls’ go-ahead goal two minutes later, forcing a turnover in the midfield. Kaku sprung White, whose cross deflected into the net off Andy Rose.

Rose nearly made up for his own goal in the 58th minute, latching onto a Ali Adnan corner kick, but Robles made the save.

Fredy Montero equalized from the penalty spot just past the hour mark after Nealis was judged to have handled a cross in the box following Video Review.

The Red Bulls squandered two open chances late with Danny Royer and Duncan firing over the net before they were again hit on a counter deep in stoppage time. After a Red Bulls free kick, Inbeom Hwang played Venuto into space and the forward had shot turned away by a diving Robles. The rebound fell to Hwang, who sprinted 70 yards down field after his initial pass, but Connor Lade cleared the ball off the line.

“There was a lot of space so we’ll look at the video will will try to correct that,” Robles said. “But for whatever reason in the second half, there was a lot of space and they were able to hit us on the counter and we’ll have to evaluate that and find ways to improve.”

Armas made seven changes to his team that defeated Atlanta United, 1-0, on Sunday with Lade and Duncan replacing Michael Murillo and Kemar Lawrence as outside backs, Nealis starting for the suspended Tim Parker, Cristian Casseres Jr. and Omir Fernandez replacing Sean Davis and Marc Rzatkowski in the midfield and Alex Muyl and Etienne starting on each wing for Royer and Andreas Ivan.

In addition to a changed shape, dos Santos rotated six players following a 1-1 draw at Sporting Kansas City Saturday with Jon Erice returning from a sprained left ankle, Zac McMath getting the nod in net for Maxime Crepeau, Derek Cornelius starting in central defense for the injured Doneil Henry, Scott Sutter replaced Jake Nerwinski at right back, Levis coming on for Venuto and Ardáiz featuring as the lone striker.

Both teams return to action Saturday with the Red Bulls heading to Nippert Stadium to meet FC Cincinnati for a second time this season, while the Whitecaps return home to face FC Dallas.

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