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It’s a game Felipe calls “a special one,” but the Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder says there is nothing personal about playing against the New York Red Bulls.

The Whitecaps match against the Red Bulls on Saturday at BC Place Stadium will be the first between the two teams since Felipe came to Vancouver in a trade involving defender Tim Parker.

“It’s nothing personal, and I have nothing to prove,” Felipe said on Friday. “I have to be thankful for everything they did for me. From the front office to the guys that take care of the stuff in the locker room, everyone was so nice to me, so good.”

Felipe made 100 starts and appearances over three seasons with the Red Bulls, collecting 10 goals and 17 assists. He was part of the team that won the MLS Supporters’ Shield in 2016.

Those number speak for themselves, Felipe said.

“You have to prove while you are there, and I think I did and I did pretty well,” he said. “Now I just want to get three points for my team.”

The 27-year-old from Brazil packs a fierce competitive spirit into a 5-foot-9, 150-pound frame. Fast on his feet, he can also be a fearless tackler.

Red Bulls midfielder Daniel Royer, a former teammate, said Felipe probably wants to beat his old club more than he’s letting on.

“I think, of course they [Vancouver] want to win as well, but I think nobody wants to win as bad as he does,” Royer told the Red Bulls website. “So, he will put in everything that he has, a lot of fight, a lot of mentality, a lot of savviness into trying to win and will do whatever it takes.”

New York head coach Chris Armas said Felipe plays his best in big games.

“He’s a competitor,” Armas said. “He gets control of his emotions, uses it the right way. I’m sure he’ll do a few fouls and he’ll dish out on them, but I expect him to play great.”

Parker knows facing his old team will be difficult.

“They’re an organized team defensively, hard to break down,” the 26-year-old said. “They’ve got some big bodies in the box to worry about.”

The Whitecaps have ridden a roller-coaster of emotions over the last week.

Vancouver looked impressive last weekend in a 2-1 road victory that snapped the Portland Timbers’ 15-game unbeaten streak. The Whitecaps followed that emotional high by crashing to earth in a 5-2 loss to Toronto on Wednesday in the deciding game of the two-leg Canadian Championship.

“We move forward,” Felipe said. “It was something that was tough.

“It’s important now we focus on making the playoffs and going on a good stretch.”

Vancouver sits seventh in the MLS Western Conference with 33 points. It trails Real Salt Lake by two points for the sixth and final playoff spot in the West and is one point ahead of Seattle, which has played one less game.

“It’s probably a reality of where we should be,” Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson said. “Good teams usually come through in the end. We believe we are a good team. We will focus on what we can control.”

The Red Bulls come into the match with 47 points, leaving them tied for second in the East.

With New York beginning a stretch of five games in 15 days, Armas said his team can’t be overly confident against the Whitecaps.

“There’s just little room for error, especially against a good team on the road,” he said. “Vancouver has shown that if you’re not ready to play, it’s a long way to go to get your butt kicked.”

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