Scouting report: Taking a closer look at a talented Houston Dynamo side
You would think with Houston Dynamo coming to town, it would be the perfect tonic for our Vancouver Whitecaps FC, as the Dynamo have not won a game on the road in Major League Soccer this season.
But when you take a closer look at Houston’s away record, it tells you they have only lost four of their 12 games on the road, with the other eight games resulting in draws. Even more impressive is the draws against New York Red Bulls, Real Salt Lake, and Seattle Sounders FC, who are usually very tough on their home turf. On the other hand, Houston have suffered away losses to Chivas USA, San Jose Earthquakes, and Toronto FC, which should give our 'Caps hope of a victory at home.
This Dynamo side is on a high right now, having lost only one match in their last ten in the league. Houston's run started with the return of their leader Brian Ching from injury. He has not been on the losing side since returning to action following a red-card suspension during 3-0 defeat at Chivas USA on July 23. Ching has scored four goals in his last five appearances and is playing some of the best soccer of his career, as he always looks a threat to score when Houston attack.
Ching is complemented up front by big Cam Weaver or Honduran international Carlo Costly, who really impressed me in this summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup. Costly is also a big forward that has a lot of pace and trickery, and is adapting to MLS life very nicely. Providing the ammunition to the forwards is talented lefty Brad Davis, who leads MLS with 13 assists so far this season. He was named to the MLSsoccer.com Team of the Week for the sixth time this week, which ties him for most appearances in the weekly all-star XI amongst MLS players. Davis' crosses cause havoc for opposing defences and he is a serious threat on corners and free kicks. These key players will have to be watched very closely, and shutting them down will go a long way to a 'Caps victory being achieved.
I mentioned Houston getting some very impressive draws on the road in New York, Salt Lake, and Seattle. Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall can take a lot of credit for these results, as he has stood on his head and kept Houston in each of those games. So Saturday's visitors can be had on the road, but Whitecaps FC's strikers will have to be sharp in front of the net to beat this talented shot-stopper.
In our last home game, I thought we put in a 90-minute performance that resulted in a 4-2 victory over Chicago Fire, and it will take more of the same against this Dynamo side. Houston will probably play a 4-4-2 formation, be disciplined, and hardworking. They are a side that play to the final whistle. In their last two games, Houston scored winning goals against Portland and Salt Lake in the final minutes of the match.
Whitecaps FC players are wearing their hearts on their sleeves and want so badly to win for the tremendous fans that have supported the club through this tough first season in MLS. Together, we can hopefully beat this very good Houston team and earn back-to-back victories at home.