Only 3 games into the season and we have seen in many ways a transformed Houston Dynamo side compared to last year's group. The team has finished a league best 11 goals in that time and the goals are coming from several players in our offense heavy style of play. However, in that time they've also seen some familiar problems on the defensive end that has led to the team conceding 7 goals over their opening 3 games which is the 2nd worst in the league.
The team clearly has issues to address and will look back at their previous match against the New York Red Bulls for problems while looking ahead to develop solutions. The team gave up 4 goals despite scoring 3 of their own and held the lead at 2 different points in the game. The Houston Dynamo will hope to remedy those concerns and shore up their defense on the road against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Head Coach Owen Coyle has utilized a 4-2-3-1 formation to quickly punish opposing defenses. This has been successful, but the backline has shown a lack of urgency and has given up some soft goals. How Owen Coyle adapts to these problems isn't yet known, but there are plenty of personnel options for him to insert into the starting lineup that could see immediate results. Having Sheanon Williams fully healthy at right back is one place where Coyle could change things up along the backline. Jalil Anibaba has played well as a stand-in, but Williams should be the first choice for Coyle. Spanish center back Agus Garcia is another option. Agus hasn't seen playing time yet, but he could partner well in central defense next to fellow countryman Raul Rodriguez. David Horst has held that spot, but a few careless fouls and poor clearances have yielded opportunities for opposing teams, so Coyle could opt for the change at CB sooner than later.
The Dynamo have been hit pretty hard by injuries with Captain Giles Barnes and Cristian Maidana both suffering injuries against FC Dallas which forced the pair to miss out against RBNY. Oscar Boniek Garcia and Leonel Miranda have filled in capably, but Boniek will miss the Whitecaps fixture while away with the Honduran National Team. Maidana could make his return against the Whitecaps, but it may not be in a starting role and Barnes is unlikely to play despite returning to limited training.
Goalkeeper Tyler Deric is also unlikely to make his comeback so Joe Willis should be the main man between the sticks. Erick Torres was also called up to the U-23 Mexican National Team and will be unavailable.
My "Probable" Lineup
There are a lot of possibilities for Coyle, but I think he sticks with his formation and makes only minor adjustments with his personnel. The big problem he faces is replacing Boniek Garcia's position at CAM as Boniek himself is a replacement for the injured Chaco Maidana. I believe the versatile Alex Lima moves into that position and David Rocha partners next to Ricardo Clark. Alex has shown promise moving up the field and also brings a defensive tenacity that could temper some of our defensive concerns.
The Whitecaps are currently 1-2-0 and are seeking their first win in front of their home crowd. The Dynamo will need to be disciplined defensively while continuing to punish opposing defenses. There are tons of opportunities and with players injured and on national team duty we could see more of a shakeup than I predicted. Could Rob Lovejoy see starting minutes? Maybe Mauro Manotas gets a nod. Let us know how you'd take on the Whitecaps at BC Place and share your selections in the comments below.