Two weeks, two matches, two wins. That's the tally for the Houston Dynamo so far in 2014. They've had a week off since beating two of last year's playoff teams at home - a week to rest, keep focused, and try to see if they can't replicate their feats on the road against another of last season's playoff teams.
To say that the Vancouver Whitecaps had an interesting offseason would be like saying that Brad Davis has a passable left foot. The saga of Camilo Sanvezzo, last year's Golden Boot winner, has undoubtedly left a sour taste in the mouths of fans who would like nothing better than to move on from that. The sour taste was partly sated by a 4-1 trouncing of New York in the first weekend, but they've since notched draws against Chivas USA and New England, with just a single goal between the two.
Camilo aside, the rest of Vancouver's attack is rather similar to last year's. Erik Hurtado, Kekuta Manneh, Darren Mattocks - they're all still waiting, and to expect anything less then their best would be an insult to a good roster. They'll have to find someone to open up the scoring - something you don't expect to say about a team that just last year hosted a Golden Boot winner, but that's the way things go.
For the Dynamo's part, they'll have to keep a hot start going. They've scored five goals in two matches, and Will Bruin has looked much better as of late. His goal against Montreal (number three on the season) was one that seems to come only to those smiled upon by Lady Luck. He seems more confident in his ability, and that can only bode well.
Also a good sign is the fact that both Brad Davis and Tony Cascio seem to be aiming to play this weekend. Davis, who picked up a hamstring injury late in the match against Montreal two weeks ago, will look to play Saturday night before heading out to join the U.S. Men's National Team in Glendale, Arizona the next day. Cascio sprained his knee in the season opener, and the midfielder would undoubtedly like the chance to get pack on the pitch for the Dynamo.
There are, of course, other questions. The Dynamo have often struggled away from Houston - can this much-documented malady be cured before kickoff? There have been many instances where we all thought this was the case, only to see it implode before our eyes. Have Jermaine Taylor and David Horst become the vaunted centerback partnership that the Dynamo have needed? They'll be tested against Manneh, Mattocks, and the rest of the Vancouver attack. Will a week off have any impact on Bruin's hot start? Sports are streaky, and sometimes, time off does more bad than good.
Most important, though, is the simple question: will the Dynamo leave Vancouver with more points than they arrived with? By the end of Saturday's match, we'll know, of course - and we'll have a much better idea of where the Dynamo stand going into a most important showdown. But that, of course, is in the future. The Dynamo must be focused on the present, so we shall be, too. And if they can leave Vancouver with points, it will be another step in the right direction.