Fresh off a CONCACAF Champions League exit, the Houston Dynamo are back home to host the Vancouver Whitecaps. The Dynamo have managed to collect four points from their first three games while the Whitecaps are still trying to grab their first point of the 2019 season.
In our preview of the match we discussed some of the changes to the Whitecaps and differences between last year’s matches, but we wanted an inside perspective so we got in touch with the good folks over at Eighty Six Forever to shed some light on the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Dynamo Theory: New year, new Vancouver. Since the 2018 season finished which saw the Whitecaps finish 8th in the Western Conference, the club has made sweeping changes to the roster. Which player or players do you think will have the most impact in the 2019 season?
Eighty Six Forever: We’ve already seen In-Beom Hwang show a level of quality that is incredibly rare. He’s a really special talent and right now, the ‘Caps go how he goes. Outside of that, Erik Godoy looks like a monster at centre half. He’s aggressive, but he’s clean, while also being a good distributor of the ball. Maxime Crépeau is another who has come in and impressed early in the season and looks like a really shrewd acquisition.
DT: Carl Robinson and Craig Dalrymple are out and Marc Dos Santos is the new manager for Vancouver. What differences in style of play have you noticed and has the squad embraced the tactics?
ESF: The Whitecaps are playing a completely new style to what Robinson had the team playing. Under Robbo the ‘Caps were dependant on defending decently and trying to hit teams on the break. Dos Santos on the other hand has the team playing a much more possession based game and pressing in a controlled manner on the defensive side of the ball. While it hasn’t reaped any rewards yet, the new style is refreshing and the team is actually approaching each match with a plan.
One of the most damning things said last year was after Robinson was fired. Dalrymple came in as caretaker and told media that the players didn’t have a plan of how they were going to get the ball back when they lost it, and certainly didn’t have a coherent plan in attack.
DT: Obviously it’s difficult to tell after all the changes that have been made, but after a down year in 2018 what are the expectations for this new squad this season?
ESF: While the ‘Caps didn’t miss the playoffs by much, finishing 8th in the west, they certainly weren’t going to be a threat to anyone in the playoffs if they did manage to get in. At this point, making the playoffs is the goal for 2019, and anything beyond that is gravy. That said, all of our writers felt that it was going to be a rocky start to the season, and so far we’ve been proved right. Now we’re just hoping for the team to find a rhythm sooner rather than later.
For my answers to Eighty Six Forever’s questions, please check them out here!