Tim Parker has a chance to show the Vancouver Whitecaps what they are missing Saturday.
Parker is slated to suit up at center back for the New York Red Bulls (15-6-2, 47 points) as they visit his former Whitecaps squad (9-9-6, 33 points). He will try to help the Red Bulls continue their strong defensive play against a Vancouver squad that is sometimes explosive offensively but has also struggled on the back line since he left.
The Red Bulls have allowed the fewest goals in Major League Soccer this season with 23, three fewer than second-best Seattle. Accordingly, no other team has matched the Red Bulls’ 15 wins, including eight in their last 10 games. New York has surrendered one goal or fewer in six of those victories and leads the league in shutouts with nine.
Parker, a 25-year-old Hicksville, N.Y., native who joined the club in a pre-season trade, has played a prominent role.
“I think, looking back on it all, it was a great move for me,” said Parker in comments reported by Postmedia. “I think it challenged me as a player to come back to New York and develop into this style. So I’m glad the move happened.”
Parker was criticized at times during his three-year tenure with Vancouver, but the Whitecaps could use him these days. They have rotated different central defenders alongside stalwart Kendall Waston — who has missed time due to World Cup duty with Costa Rica and suspension — and consistency has been lacking.
Once noted for stout defensive play, the Caps allowed five goals to Toronto in Wednesday’s second and final leg of the Canadian championship series. They have allowed four or more goals in four games overall while conceding a total of 47 on the season.
But the Whitecaps are unbeaten in their past four MLS games (2-0-2) and will try to put the disappointing Canadian final loss behind them as they return to league play.
“What we have now in front of us is trying to qualify for the playoffs and win the MLS Cup,” Waston told reporters. “So we are now focused on that and trying to look forward for the game on Saturday and, hopefully, win those three points.”
—Field Level Media