The MLS season isn't even a month old, and yet it's already turned into a roller coaster ride of sorts for the Houston Dynamo. Though they started their campaign in high fashion, with a 2-0 win over D.C. United and a 1-0 victory over Santos Laguna, fortunes quickly changed. With the second weekend of the season a bye for the Dynamo, the idea was to rest players for the CONCACAF Champions League second leg in Mexico. Unfortunately, that didn't work, as a mistake filled 3-0 loss knocked the Dynamo out of Champions League play. With an eye to regroup but a short turn-around, they fell behind FC Dallas 2-0 at halftime last Sunday. The Dynamo showed heart and drive to level the score, but ultimately wound up losing their second straight match 3-2 on a late goal from Kenny Cooper.
Saturday will mark the end of the season's third week. The Dynamo have played four matches in that span, splitting them evenly. With two losses following two wins, it might seem logical to assume that the side is "due" for a win Saturday night against the Vancouver Whitecaps, but in this game, nothing is certain.
On paper, the Dynamo seem to have a few things going in their favor. It's a home match, and the Dynamo have won their first two home contests this season as the latest chapter in what has become a 32 match home winning streak in all competitions (26 match streak in MLS play alone). Despite the recently porous back line, this is a team that has made back to back appearances in the MLS Cup Final, and are considered by many a strong contender to make it there for a third year straight.
That being said, I'll return to my mantra that there's no such thing as a given three points. Though they were a five seed bounced out by the Galaxy in the first match, the Whitecaps were also a playoff team last season. And unlike the Dynamo, who didn't really feel the need to go out and secure a lot of additional talent, Vancouver got a lot better. Nigel Reo-Coker. Erik Hurtado. Kekutah Manneh. Those three weren't the only additions the club made, but they're undoubtedly the biggest.
And they're only losing one player (Scotland's Kenny Miller) to national team duty. The Dynamo are losing three (Brad Davis to the US national team, Oscar Boniek Garcia to Honduras and Jermaine Taylor to Jamaica). I'm not going to sit here and wax poetic about the pros and cons of playing during the international breaks, but this is a situation that is much more favorable to Vancouver than it is to the Dynamo. While Miller is an important part of their attack, it would be crazy to try and say that his absence will be costlier to his team than the combined absences of Davis, Boniek and Taylor are to theirs.
And if losing three players to national team duty doesn't seem like too much of a hurdle, injuries have threatened to force even more players out of action. Omar Cummings is still trying to return from his preseason injury, and though he featured in Sunday's reserve match, it's unclear just how much of a role he'll be able to have against the Whitecaps. Also questionable due to injuries are Will Bruin and Cam Weaver, who both picked up knocks on Sunday. Both didn't practice with the team until Thursday, and the loss of both players - especially Bruin - would put a massive strain on an already thin roster. After those three, the depth at that position is elder statesman Brian Ching, 2013 SuperDraft pick Jason Johnson, and then whoever else Dominic Kinnear trusts to shift up to striker. I don't know about you, but I sure hope that Bruin can go Saturday night.
The Dynamo have, as is their apparent custom, started the season off somewhat slow. While their chances of getting points out of this match are helped by the fact that it is at BBVA Compass Stadium, this will not be an easy match. Through two matches, the Whitecaps have picked up all six points, and I get the feeling that it's going to take a very good game from a patchwork Dynamo side to stop that run. I'm not going to sit here and guarantee that will happen, but you get the feeling that after back to back losses, whatever starting XI Kinnear puts out will have a fire to prove themselves once again. I'm going to go ahead and predict that this should be a very entertaining match.