Preview: Whitecaps FC vs. Houston Dynamo
Halfway through their training camp in Arizona, Whitecaps FC take on Major League Soccer (MLS) Eastern Conference side Houston Dynamo in their second preseason friendly match on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. PT at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Arizona. The match will be streamed live on whitecapsfc.com.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
The 'Caps registered an impressive 4-1 win against New England Revolution on Tuesday and will be looking to build momentum in the first of their two preseason contests against the MLS Cup runners-up. Whitecaps FC will continue training in Arizona until Thursday, February 7 before heading back to Vancouver next week.
Captain Jay DeMerit is expected to see the field for his first minutes of preseason action, while Bryce Alderson and Omar Salgado look unlikely to play as they continue to rehab from a sore knee and foot injury respectively.
Expect another mixture of established first team players, trialists, and new signings to appear in Saturday's match. Darren Mattocks will be hoping to carry on his form from Tuesday’s game where he scored a hat-trick in the first 15 minutes. Canadian trialists Evan James, Andres Fresenga and Simon Thomas will also be looking to see the field with the 'Caps after appearing for Canada in international friendlies against Denmark and the United States this past week.
“I think it will be a similar situation as the last game where we want to give players time and fitness and hopefully see improvements in things we could have done better,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie. “It’s a long season. We don’t want to leave it all in the preseason, but we want to do well in these games and we want to build on the last game, which was a good result against New England.”
The 'Caps will again face the Dynamo in the Carolina Challenge Cup on Feburary 20 in Charleston, South Carolina.
Houston, who are preparing to face Mexican side Santos Laguna in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals on March 5, have so far recorded two 3-0 wins against their own Dynamo Academy and Houston Baptist University, but came unstuck in a 2-0 loss against San Jose Earthquakes at Kino Sports Complex on Tuesday. The Texas club followed that up with a strong 1-0 win against Colorado Rapids on Thursday.
Houston will look to welcome back midfielder Brad Davis and striker Will Bruin, who made appearances for the United States men’s national team in their friendly against Canada on Tuesday.
After finishing fifth in the Eastern Conference in 2012, Houston once again proved their postseason mettle and made it through to the MLS Cup final where, for the second year in a row, they lost out the star powered LA Galaxy.
Whitecaps FC boast a 2W-1L-0D record against the Dynamo in MLS regular season play. In 2012, a Darren Mattocks brace and a late goal from Jordan Harvey secured a 3-1 win at BC Place.
On Monday the 'Caps will play a friendly match against Arizona Suaharos of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), at 5 p.m. PT at Grande Sports World in Casa Grande, Arizona.
Following the annual trip to Arizona, players will return to Vancouver on February 8 for a few days of training back at Burnaby Lake West. The team will then head to Charleston, South Carolina, for the Carolina Challenge Cup where they will play a series of matches against Charleston Battery (February 16), Houston Dynamo (February 20), and Chicago Fire (February 23), as well as a friendly against College of Charleston (February 17). The preseason schedule will then wrap up with a trip to Cary, North Carolina, for a match against Carolina RailHawks (February 24).