Dynamo, or some facsimile, aim for Vancouver

This empty orange space brought to you courtesy of all the Dynamo players will not be playing for the team this weekend.

I have a list of Houston Dynamo players for you. Check this out:

Jermaine Taylor

Geoff Cameron

Je-Vaughn Watson

Andre Hainault

Will Bruin

Alex Dixon

Kofi Sarkodie

Take a good look, because unless you are watching World Cup qualifiers or checking out the local team doctor's office, those are the only looks you're likely to get of the Absent Seven. The first four are answering their countries' calls in the first round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. The next three, meanwhile, have all found themselves on the injured list. Bruin and Dixon seem to have picked up concussions (Concussions!!?) in training this week, while HRH Sarkodie is still recovering from a foot injury. (I could theoretically have included Oscar Boniek Garcia on the absent list, but that would just be teasing now wouldn't it?)

As we get closer to Sunday's match against the Vancouver Whitecaps (6 p.m. Central on Fox Sports Houston and Multimedios 43 and on radio at SportsTalk 790 AM (English) and La Ranchera 850 AM (Spanish)), it would be illustrative perhaps to take a quick look at our upcoming foe. Head after the fold for a look at the Caps.

The Whitecaps are sitting on 19 points with a 5-3-4 mark through 12 games, as opposed to Dynamo's 16 (4-3-4) after 11 games. However, Vancouver has not won in MLS play in over a month, a 2-1 victory over San Jose at home on May 5. Since then, the western Canuckistanis have lost 4-1 at New England Revolution and drawn their Cascadia rivals Seattle 2-2 at BC Place and at Portland 1-1. Mixed in there were three Canadian Championship matches, where they beat FC Edmonton 3-1 and then lost over two legs to Toronto FC. That win over Edmonton was on May 9, and was the last time Vancouver won a game. Here are the highlights of the last three MLS matches in order.

Vancouver looked pretty spiffy on that first goal from Eric Hassli, showing a fluidity in attack that has become more of the norm under new coach Martin Rennie. However, from there, the wheels fell off, and it's not hard to see why. Rave all you like about Lee Nguyen there, but the fact of the matter is that the Whitecap defense made an impressive display doing their impression of mimes acting like trees. They looked like traffic cones there. Let's see if we find a similar pattern of behavior in the Seattle draw.

On the first goal, I think even old and slow me could have scored as the Sounders defense was off sightseeing or whatever before turning around and wondering just how that ball got int eh back of the net. Then for the first Seattle goal, once again you see a Vancouver defense that makes volcanic rock look nice and tight by comparison.

On the second Vancouver goal, well, it's hard to imagine that being more poorly defended against by the Seattle defense. Definitely not a great day for them. Not that Vancouver's back line will send many highlights of this game to family and friends. If it weren't for Joe Cannon at that point in the game, Seattle would have been two or three in front. But Cannon couldn't do it all, as Fredy Montero took advantage of some more lax marking to bury the final equalizer. Not a good day for either side.

So now we travel down to Portland on May 26, and what do we find?

Against a far more anemic Portland attack, the Vancouver defense looked somewhat stouter at first. But of course, that did not last as Jay DeMerit got caught ball-watching, allowing Kris Boyd to slip behind him and do what he does best, poach a garbage goal. Of course, not to be outdone, the putrid Portland defense allowed Darren Mattocks to get a late equalizer.

So, watching all three of these highlights, what have we learned? First, the offensive chances should be plenty for Dynamo, but unless our own defense stays tight, a clean sheet for Tally Hall will be a stretch, to say the least. Not this analysis is any great stretch. Having so many guys absent, the ones who remain had better turn in a pretty stout effort, especially rookie Warren Creavalle, who I think will get serious minutes, so his shifts against San Antonio and Valencia hopefully have put him in good stead. Also, Brian Ching is going to have to find his youthful self right now, especially with Bruin out. Let's hear what the Men in Orange themselves have to say about the challenge that awaits them.

Very much liking to hear Captain Kamehameha address the absent player issue head on. And clearly, the interview with Bruin was before he was listed as "Out" on the injury list with concussion-related symptoms.

There'll be a much fuller preview of this game to come this weekend. In the meantime, sound off. I'm picking this to be a frustrating, but satisfying when you consider our depleted ranks, 2-2 draw. What is your pick?

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