Houston is hosting Vancouver at BBVA for the third matchup of the regular season between the two squads. And with the door closing fast on the Dynamo’s chances of a playoff berth this is likely the final matchup of the season with the Whitecaps. Vancouver, a team currently tied for 5th place in the West, are likely hungry for the ever elusive away victory as they fight for playoff positioning.
There’s a pretty cool story going on in Vancouver right now. They recently signed 15 year old Alphonso Davies and even sent him on in their last MLS matchup against Orlando City. Davies, an up and coming phenom who has been playing for Whitecaps FC 2 since 2015, is the third youngest player to ever sign an MLS contract. Get this: he’s too young to have a driver’s license, and he still goes to high school! His signing comes on the heels of an injury to Kekuta Manneh who will be out for some time after foot surgery. It’s unrealistic to expect Davies to make up for the loss of Manneh. Nevertheless, it seems the kid has some serious potential and Vancouver is going to see what he can deliver as they try to stay in the playoff picture. Davies will likely be brought into game situations to provide a spark when needed. Thus far in 2016 a very promising and talented Whitecaps team has been mired in mediocrity and they certainly will take any points they can get on the road to break out of a current tie with Cascadia Cup rivals Portland and move into a stronger position in the west. They certainly don’t have a problem scoring goals with 33 under their belt so far this season, but defensively they are experiencing some problems while allowing a league leading 35.
Houston on the other hand must get a win to even maintain a slight glimmer of hope that the postseason is still available to them. Perhaps, though, that hope has faded and the team will need to focus on other goals. Like winning, regardless. A team fighting off the signs of turmoil all season found their footing at mid-season, only to stumble before making enough upward progress. Nevertheless the coaching staff and the players all need to send signs that they are winners, considering that no one quite knows what the offseason will hold. Interim Head Coach Wade Barrett has certainly done a fine job of righting a sinking ship. But if he intends to snag the permanent position (and let’s assume that is his intention) he’ll need to achieve something positive during the remainder of the season. The Dynamo are still having issues scoring but apparently Vancouver is struggling to stop the wind from blowing balls into the net. There’s nothing formidable about this team and with the respectable defense the Dynamo have been rolling out under Barrett there is certainly no reason to think Vancouver will have it easy in Houston.
For all the positive vibes surrounding the signing of Davies, there is no doubt that Vancouver is a team searching for answers. The recent signings of veteran Canadian defenders David Edgar and Marcel De Jong indicates they are trying to shore up their deficiencies, though why the defense is suffering so greatly with centerbacks Kendall Waston and Tim Parker is perplexing. The Dynamo have been good at only a few things this year, grinding out draws and allowing stoppage time goals among them, but sporadically we’ve seen the team score in bunches. This matchup with MLS’s most porous defense could provide a great opportunity for Barrett and co. to do just that.
The game kicks off of Saturday at 8:15 pm CT.