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Houston Dynamo @ Vancouver Whitecaps Preview: Back to BC Place

Dynamo continue road trip amidst turnover.

Ricardo Clark controls the ball in front of Masato Kudo. Kudo was reprimanded by MLS for his play in his team's first match with the Dynamo earlier this season.
Ricardo Clark controls the ball in front of Masato Kudo. Kudo was reprimanded by MLS for his play in his team's first match with the Dynamo earlier this season.
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The season rolls on. Houston is making their second appearance in Vancouver this year to face a rejuvenated Whitecaps club. They do so without their head coach of the last year and a half; Owen Coyle. In a year that has seen highs and lows the loss of their head coach may find the Dynamo at their bottom. They will face a Vancouver side that has worked their way back into the mix at the top of the western conference.

Vancouver Hitting Stride

Since the last meeting of these two squads their outlooks have diverged. Vancouver, who started the season with a sputter, have hit a hot streak winning 3 of 5 before their latest let down to rivals Portland. In actuality, their win over Houston in April was one of a few bright spots for the club prior to that streak. Currently in a three way tie for third in the west, they’ve been spurred on by strong performances from the likes of Kekuta Manneh and Pedro Morales. They will certainly look to continue riding high, but as in the first matchup they will do so without several other key players who will be out for the upcoming Copa America Centenario. Kendall Waston and Cristian Bolanos will be out for the Costa Rican national team, and Blas Perez will be out for Panama. The absences will leave some key holes that will certainly need to be plugged for the next month if they plan to continue their winning ways.

Dynamo in Turmoil

Farewell to Mr. Coyle. His departure certainly correlates to Dynamo struggles over the last two seasons, and though he bares the most responsibility he cannot fairly take the blame entirely. In Coyle’s absence assistant coaches Wade Bennett, Paul Caffrey and Paul Rogers will split management duties, though who will handle which aspects is yet unknown. Though the parting of ways was hardly unforeseen, there are certainly members of the team who were caught by surprise and who had good things to say about their now former coach.

What does this all mean for the Dynamo? It is certainly a low point for a club that has so very few highs this season. The team has been built around Coyle’s 4-2-3-1 formation and a philosophy of heavy focus on attacking. When it became clear that something was amiss, Coyle made some big changes by reworking the formation and bringing in several players off the bench to replace longtime starters. In the end, the results were mixed. How will the Dynamo adjust now? It’s anyone’s guess, really. On top of the shakeup Houston will also be without Giles Barnes who has also been called up to play in the Copa America for the Reggae Boyz. Possibly sliding into his place is Leonel Miranda who has played well in spot duty this year. While the team will see the return of Erick Torres, it’s unknown at this point if DaMarcus Beasley will be available at left back. His tweet following last week’s loss to Chicago indicates that he may not have been game ready, which may have contributed to his early exit due to injury.

Through all the doom and gloom there are still a few bright spots. The previous match in Vancouver was a closely contested game, won 1-0 by the Whitecaps on a PK after a controversial penalty in the box on Masato Kudo. Controversial indeed, as after the game the league reprimanded and suspended Kudo for the flop. The midseason parting of ways with Coyle, though by almost all accounts unexpected, shows that the club’s front office is sensitive to the winning traditions of the past and is being realistic about the progress shown by the team. With so much turmoil and uncertainty it’s difficult to hope for much, though a win would probably do wonders for this team right now. One thing for certain is that 18 men will dress for the Dynamo on Saturday, and they will not make any excuses for the outcome.