Whitecaps FC return to action versus Houston Dynamo on Sunday

'Caps host Houston in lone MLS match of the weekend

Eric Hassli Houston Dynamo Empire Field

Photo Credit: 
Bob Frid

Fresh off a well-earned two-week break, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (5W-3L-4D) return to Major League Soccer action when they host Eastern Conference side Houston Dynamo (4W-3L-4D) on Sunday afternoon.

Martin Rennie’s side start the month of June with an important three-match home stand, beginning with the visit of the Dynamo to Bell Pitch at BC Place this weekend. While the Blue and White have their focus on pushing up the Western Conference standings, Houston arrive on Canada’s west coast with similar aspirations as an Eastern Conference outfit, which should make for an intriguing MLS contest.

Sunday's match between Whitecaps FC and Houston Dynamo at BC Place kicks off at 4 p.m. PT. Individual match tickets start at $20, plus applicable service charges, and are available at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca, and Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS (1.855.646.2277). CLICK HERE for more information on Whitecaps FC tickets.

Whitecaps FC's home match versus Houston Dynamo can also be seen live on Sportsnet Pacific and Bell mobile devices at 4 p.m. PT, with a pre-game show starting at 3:30 p.m. PT. 'Caps fans can also listen to Sunday’s match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 2 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 6 p.m. PT. Fans can also follow Sunday’s match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.

WHITECAPS FC

A quiet couple of weeks has allowed Whitecaps FC some valuable time for reflection on the season so far, especially after a very hectic month of May. Vancouver will be pleased to be in a position to contend for an MLS Cup Playoff spot, having established a couple of landmarks since getting their second season underway on March 10. While disappointment remains that a piece of silverware was not achieved during that time in the 2012 Amway Canadian Championship, the opportunity to focus fully on the remainder of the regular season schedule is something that Rennie’s squad are relishing. Of immediate concern will be to end a three-match winless streak in MLS, and a five-match winless run in all competitions, on Sunday.

A big key to Whitecaps FC’s turnaround so far this season has been the availability of a mainly healthy squad, despite Thursday’s announcement that striker Omar Salgado is sidelined with a foot fracture that he suffered while on international duty with the United States U-20 national team in South America. Fellow striker Atiba Harris and goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre are the other notable casualties for Vancouver at present, with Harris facing another spell on the sidelines following surgery to repair the meniscus in his right knee late last month. The ‘Caps are also without centre back Michael Boxall, who is also on international duty with his native New Zealand in the Solomon Islands. The All Whites are currently defending their Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Nations Cup title after advancing to the next stage of 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying in their region.

DYNAMO

After a challenging start to 2012, in which they played their first seven league matches on the road, Houston have settled into a brand new home and gone the last four games without defeat (2W-0L-2D). The Dynamo took a big step forward as a club when they opened the newest soccer-specific stadium in MLS last month. Located in downtown Houston, the orange-clad BBVA Compass Stadium has a capacity of 22,039 and should serve as a real fortress for Dominic Kinnear’s side, as they look to push into the postseason positions in a competitive-looking Eastern Conference. They face a challenging task on Sunday, as the Texas-based outfit have never won an MLS match on Canadian soil (0W-3L-3D).

Kinnear’s squad includes a potent set of attackers. In midfielder Brad Davis, Houston have one of the best set-piece specialists in all of MLS, while Scotsman Adam Moffat is a fine striker of the ball from long distances. The Dynamo’s strike force includes the talismanic Hawaiian Brian Ching, second-year forward Will Bruin, and former Chicago Fire striker Calen Carr. Where Houston are likely to have selection issues on Sunday is in their backline, as Geoff Cameron (United States), Andre Hainault (Canada), and Jermaine Taylor (Jamaica) are currently away on World Cup qualifying duty with their national teams. Dynamo midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson also misses the trip to Vancouver, as he and Taylor are helping The Reggae Boyz take a step closer to reaching Brazil 2014 during this round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. New Designated Player signing in midfielder Oscar Boniek Garcia is also away on World Cup qualifying duty with his native Honduras. The Dynamo also have two players missing through injury in goalkeeper Erich Marscheider (shoulder) and defender Kofi Sarkodie (foot).

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Sunday’s match is the third meeting between Vancouver and Houston, with Whitecaps FC splitting their first two MLS encounters with the Dynamo last season. On April 10, 2011, the 'Caps suffered a 3-1 defeat at Houston’s Robertson Stadium. First-half goals from Cam Weaver and Bobby Boswell set Houston on their way to victory, despite Camilo Sanvezzo replying before halftime for Vancouver. Bruin sealed all three points for the Dynamo with a late second-half strike. Whitecaps FC avenged that defeat at Empire Field on August 27, 2011, as a late strike from Shea Salinas gave Vancouver a 1-0 home win. Both clubs also met in preseason, with Whitecaps FC defeating Houston 1-0 at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic in Florida on February 26.

The only other time Whitecaps FC faced a team from 'Space City' was during the old North American Soccer League days when the 'Caps lost 1-0 at home to Houston Hurricane on June 2, 1979. Sunday’s match will also be the 50th time that Whitecaps FC play a club from the state of Texas since 1974. At home, Vancouver have dominated clubs from The Lone Star State with an all-time record of 21W-2L-2D for an overall record of 29W-16L-4D all-time.

There are several connections between both sets of players. Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Joe Cannon played for Kinnear at San Jose Earthquakes between 2000 and 2002, while the experienced Vancouver shot-stopper was teammates with Dynamo midfielder Colin Clark at Colorado Rapids in 2007. A teammate of Cannon’s at LA Galaxy in 2007, Houston’s Nathan Sturgis was selected by Whitecaps FC in the third round of the 2010 MLS Expansion Draft before being traded to Canadian rivals Toronto FC. ‘Caps midfielder John Thorrington and Dynamo striker Carr were teammates at Chicago Fire from 2006 to 2010, while Houston defender Bobby Boswell played under Whitecaps FC director of soccer operations Tom Soehn at D.C. United from 2005 to 2007.

NEXT AT BC PLACE: COLORADO RAPIDS

Following Sunday’s clash with Houston, Whitecaps FC’s three-match home stand will continue on Saturday, June 16, when they host Western Conference rivals Colorado Rapids. Kickoff from BC Place is set for 4 p.m. PT. Individual match tickets start at $20, plus applicable service charges, and are available at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca, and Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS (1.855.646.2277). CLICK HERE for more information on Whitecaps FC tickets.

Whitecaps FC's home match versus Colorado Rapids can also be seen live on Sportsnet ONE and Bell mobile devices at 4 p.m. PT, with a pre-game show starting at 3:30 p.m. PT. 'Caps fans can also listen to the June 16 match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 2 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 6 p.m. PT. Fans can also follow the June 16 match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.

Whitecaps FC are pleased to announce that two match packs for the 2012 season are now on sale. Starting at the affordable price of $119, match packs include five Major League Soccer regular season matches and offer significant savings over individual match prices. To purchase your match pack, call 604.669.9283 ext. 3, or email sales@whitecapsfc.com. For additional information on match packs, visit whitecapsfc.com/match-packs.