There’s plenty to question and speculate about Saturday’s game at Vancouver’s BC Place stadium. This is a match between two teams who are at opposite ends of the table from where they were predicted to be just a few weeks ago. Vancouver have been mentioned among the favorites to claim the Supporters’ Shield and win the MLS Cup but they are currently languishing in last place in the West as they struggle to find a defensive identity. The Whitecaps are no doubt immensely talented and will likely attempt to correct course before the season gets too old. Houston, a goal-scoring monster at the moment, is sitting atop the league in that particular stat category after a rather disappointing output in 2015. Actually, the Dynamo have set an MLS record through both the 2nd and 3rd games of the season for goals scored and a club record for any consecutive three game streak. The goals have not translated directly into victories as the side is currently 1-1-1 but you won’t hear anyone complain about this hot start. Vancouver on the other hand has dropped two straight to start the season against Montreal and Kansas City before getting a win over rivals Seattle in the Cascadia Cup. The ‘Caps are third in the league in another telling stat category: goals allowed.
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All this talk of goal stats can be so misleading with such a small sample size of games to consider but it feeds so well to the other half of the storyline, which is…well, who the hell is going to be on the field? Vancouver will be without a whopping six players including both starting center backs Tim Parker and Kendall Waston. Should the ‘Caps defense be worried about allowing Houston to extend its goal scoring streak? Uhh, yep. The lack of a solid back line may also negate the speed Vancouver will have further up-field as the defenders struggle to launch the counterattack. All of this on top of aggressive backup striker Blas Perez also being out for a call up for Panama. Houston itself will be without several familiar faces with Boniek Garcia and Cubo Torres playing for the Honduran and Mexican U-23 sides, respectively. While Cristian Maidana may return from injury to see some time Saturday and help fill out the midfield in Boniek’s absence, Giles Barnes and Tyler Deric are likely still out for this one.
It’s a little perplexing that Vancouver is still being favored in this matchup by the odd makers. Despite being a heavy underdog, the Dynamo certainly cannot show any signs of cooling away from home. Look for Maidana and Andrew Wenger to continue creating and facilitating the attack with Will Bruin up top. As mentioned above the Whitecaps have had some struggles with goals allowed, but unfortunately the Dynamo can best them in that category as well with 7. Despite size and experience, the back line is susceptible to speedy, nimble attackers and may not be quite settled yet with new additions. Pedro Morales has knocked in several goals off of PKs already this season which is a little unsettling with backup goalkeeper Joe Willis filling in for the injured Deric.
It will be quite interesting to see which Dynamo defense shows up; the shutout D that held tight against FC Dallas in a blowout or the leaky tub that’s allowed at least 3 goals in the other two games. Fortunately for this crew the offense should take a lot of pressure off again.
Look for our guys to continue building the early season momentum and show that the new offensive brilliance is not a fluke but merely a sign of things to come.