By now, you know the drill. We exchange questions with a writer from the opposition's SBNation blog. This week gave me the opportunity to talk to Jon Szekeres of 86 Forever, and his answers are quite interesting. Make sure to head over to 86 Forever to read his questions and my answers as well!
Dynamo Theory: After the offensive explosion of the first match for Vancouver Whitecaps many expected them to roll through Chivas USA and New England Revolution. Only managing a single goal for both matches combined has to take some of the jubilation from such a hot start. Is it a matter of playing at home versus playing away or something far less expected?
Jon Szekeres: I wish I had a better answer than, 'The Whitecaps suck on the road', so how about, 'The Whitecaps suck hard on the road.' I don't know why the 'Caps have struggled so mightily away from the confines of BC Place, but I can tell you that it follows them all the way back to their first MLS season, where they didn't win a single road match in the entire season. Yikes. They're a different team at home to be sure, but that road record has been a sore spot for a while now.
DT: Darren Mattocks was said to be on the outs with the club, and yet he has found a bit of a resurgence over the offseason into that first match. Is Mattocks the future for Vancouver or is this just a blip on his radar at this point?
JS: The thing is, I think Darren Mattocks wants to work hard and earn a spot back in the good graces of his teammates, coaches and fans. He's done well so far, showing tons of hustle and helping the 'Caps avoid embarrassment in Chivas with an important assist on Kekuta Manneh's goal. However, given that during that infamous off-season interview he made mention of almost getting sold to another team, and that he seemed miffed that the 'Caps didn't explore it, I don't know if he wants to be here long term.
DT: I don't think I could ignore how impressive David Ousted looked against New England, and really against Chivas, too. He's only conceded two goals in three matches, which is to say pretty good by MLS standards. On the opposite side, Tally Hall has conceded zero goals in his two matches. If this game comes down to goalkeepers, who wins or is this one a draw?
JS: David Ousted has been a lightning rod for criticism since he's joined the club, but he sure shut people up with his perfomance against New England. Fans, and assuredly the club have been waiting for the Great Dane to steal a match for the them ever since they jettisoned fan favorite Alain Rochat to clear the way for his arrival. He still hasn't stolen a win, but the 'Caps don't get a point in New England if he doesn't play as well as he did. If this could be a turning point for him, the 'Caps would be a very dangerous squad.
DT: I noticed in Vancouver's last match they were a bit vulnerable down the left side. Houston will either trot out Andrew Driver or Tony Cascio to pair with Kofi Sarkodie along that side. How does Vancouver protect that side of the pitch without freeing up space for Brad Davis and Corey Ashe along the other side of the pitch?
JS: They play within their system and hope that Jordan Harvey can have a good match. He's the weak link on that back four (Harvey, Demerit, O'Brien, Beitashour) defensively, and if Houston can get into his head early, they could have a fun night. That being said, the 'Caps upgraded their defensive mid with the acqusition of Matias Laba from TFC, and the 'Caps have looked very strong defensively. He had a rough night (along with Nigel Reo-Coker) in New England, but the 'Caps will find their strength from their defensive core this season.
DT: If you were in control of the team, how would you gameplan to keep the Dynamo, specifically Will Bruin, off the score sheet?
JS: Play him tight, play him physical, try and piss him off early.
Projected Lineup: Ousted, Beitashour, O'Brien, Demerit, Harvey, Reo-Coker, Laba, Morales, Miller, Fernandez, Mattocks.