The Houston Dynamo are looking to put minds at ease following their first road game of the year against the New York Red Bulls. The team was able to hold a lead twice in the game, but still eventually fell to the home team in a bizarre defenseless 4-3 loss. The team now heads to the west coast to face the Vancouver Whitecaps. Vancouver finished last season 3rd place overall, but are currently struggling to begin the season.
In our preview of the match we discussed call-ups that will affect both sides, but we wanted to learn a bit more about the Whitecap perspective so we spoke with Bartosz Wysocki at Eighty Six Forever to gain insight about the club in Vancouver.
Dynamo Theory: The Vancouver Whitecaps finished the 2015 MLS campaign in 3rd place overall and fell to eventual MLS Cup champions the Portland Timbers in the conference semi-finals of the playoffs. What are the expectations this season for the Whitecaps and what would make the season a failure?
86 Forever: Let's start from the bare minimum: making the playoffs is a must. The western conference is brutal, with every team capable of taking down anyone else. However, considering we've been in the playoffs the past two seasons, not making it three in a row would be a tremendous disappointment.
Above that though, challenging for the Supporters Shield is definitely a priority of ours. 2nd in the west and 3rd overall was excellent for us last year, and if we could remain somewhere in that ballpark this time around, that would be excellent.
If we were to make the MLS Cup, then finally winning a game would make our trip a success. Though we've kept it close in the three series that we've been involved in, it's necessary to finally start winning games in the post season. Another one and done in the playoffs would definitely put Robinson in the hot seat.
Finally, winning the Voyageurs Cup is always a goal for us, especially with the CONCACAF Champions League qualification. We finally proved that we are capable of winning it last season, and not repeating as champs would leave a bitter taste in all Vancouver fans mouths
Dynamo Theory: The ‘Caps currently sit in 9th place in the Western Conference with just 3 points in 3 games. Why is Vancouver struggling out of the gates after a pretty successful season in 2015?
86 Forever: We have the personnel present to have a dangerous team, but to be blunt, no one is playing on the same level as last season. Starting from the back, David Ousted has been improving every game in net, but that atrocious gaffe he had in the opener vs Montreal is one that would have been unthinkable in 2015. He isn't being helped out by the defensive line in front of him, with Parker and Waston not yet the dynamic duo that they were last year. They've been exposed too much with plays on the ground, and haven't been as dominant in the air as they once were.
Up front, our strikers haven't been able to finish, which is also worrying after three games. Our only goals so far this season have been through penalties and defenders finishing off of set pieces, which is not something you can rely on for the rest of the season. Octavio Riveiro and Kekutah Manneh have been getting chances, but so far have squandered all of them. However, each game been an improvement, and we expect the Caps to finally start playing up to their potential soon.
Dynamo Theory: Vancouver has been hit incredibly hard by the recent international call-ups including losing 4 starting level players in Tim Parker, Kendall Watson, Christian Bolaños, and Blas Pérez. How will the Whitecaps adapt their lineup to make the necessary adjustments?
86 Forever: We have enough depth in the midfield and up front to cover the losses of Bolanos and Perez. Techera is a player who has slotted in Bolanos position before, and he has experience playing with those. Perez is a big man who will be missed up top, but out offseason signing Masato Kudo is someone who could take his place, and hopefully get his first MLS goal while he's at it.
Defensively is where things get a little dicier, with both of our experienced centre backs out. We suspect that Coach Carl Robinson will put in Pa-Modou Kah, alongside Cole Seiler. Kah has a long history of playing in the MLS, so he knows what to expect on this level. Cole Seiler has yet to play his first MLS game. He did very well playing for the Georgetown Hoyas, but there is a big difference between the NCAA and MLS, especially when it comes to being that anchor in the back. However, Kah's experience should rub off onto Seiler, and hopefully they can hold the fort this weekend.
Projected Lineup: Ousted, Harvey, Kah, Seiler, Aird, Laba, Froese, Techera, Morales, Manneh, Riveiro
Predicted Outcome: 2-2. With both of our centre backs gone and Houston coming in with the league's hottest offensive record, there's a more than fair chance of the Dynamo getting a couple on the board. However, I expect the Whitecaps forwards to finally start bagging a few goals, and buoyed by the home crowd we tie it up late in a thriller.
For my answers to Bartosz's questions check them out at Eighty Six Forever!