Playing their final match in the month of August, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (3W-13L-9D) host Eastern Conference club Houston Dynamo (8W-7L-11D) in Major League Soccer on Saturday afternoon.
Following tough road defeats to D.C. United and Pacific Northwest rivals Portland Timbers in the past two weeks, Tom Soehn's side will hope returning home to Bell Pitch at Empire Field will turn around the Blue and White's fortunes in what will be the club's penultimate match on the Pacific National Exhibition grounds. They host an in-form Dynamo side that are sitting in one of the Eastern Conference's three MLS Cup Playoff spots, with Dominic Kinnear's squad making their maiden visit to Canada's west coast this weekend.
Saturday's match between Whitecaps FC and Houston Dynamo at Empire Field 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). Visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets for more information on individual match tickets for the club's inaugural MLS season.
Whitecaps FC's home match versus Houston Dynamo can also be seen live on TSN 2 and Bell mobile devices at 4 p.m. PT. 'Caps fans can also listen to Saturday's contest 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.
Versatile defender Alain Rochat is expected to be available on Saturday, with the Canadian-born Swiss international returning to full training this week after missing the last two games. His potential return will boost a defensive backline that has struggled recently.
Soehn will also want improvement in his attack after a couple of disappointing performances on the road. Unlike the goal explosion in Whitecaps FC's last home match - a 4-2 victory over Chicago Fire on August 7 - Vancouver struggled to have the same attacking potency in D.C. and Portland. Camilo did register a consolation goal in last weekend's defeat to the Timbers, but he will be suspended on Saturday after the Brazilian playmaker picked up his fifth yellow card of the season in Portland.
Whitecaps FC will also be without experienced striker Atiba Harris (knee), midfielder Russell Teibert (rib contusion), and young goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre (knee). Three midfielders in Jeb Brovsky and Alexandre Morfaw (both hamstring), as well as Michael Nanchoff (hip flexor) are listed as questionable.
In their sixth MLS season, Houston are looking to restore themselves as one of top clubs in the league after missing the MLS Cup Playoffs last season for the first time in club history. An unbeaten run of five league matches (3W-0L-2D) has moved Kinnear's side into third place in the Eastern Conference standings, with their latest result being last Saturday's entertaining 3-2 win at home to Real Salt Lake. The Dynamo will look to Saturday's match as an opportunity to close in on the Eastern Conference summit, with the Dynamo five points behind leaders Columbus Crew. To achieve this, the Texas-based outfit must do something they have yet to do this season - win away from home. In 12 road matches, Houston have amassed four defeats and eight draws during their league campaign.
Heading into 2011, Kinnear retooled his Dynamo squad with several new faces, including the 11th overall selection of striker Will Bruin in this year's MLS SuperDraft. The Indiana University product scored four goals and recorded an assist before he was sidelined for four to six weeks following successful surgery to his left knee earlier this month. Dynamo midfielder Danny Cruz (quad), meanwhile, is listed as doubtful.
With the recent acquisition of Honduran international striker Carlo Costly, Houston bring a formidable attack to Empire Field. It includes veteran striker Brian Ching and talented playmaker Brad Davis, who currently leads MLS with 13 assists. Bobby Boswell, Geoff Cameron, and Cam Weaver have each contributed with four goals for the Dynamo this term. Kinnear's squad also includes Canadian international centre back Andre Hainault. In his third season with Houston, the former Montreal Impact defender has started all but two league matches for the Dynamo this term.
This is the second meeting between these two clubs, with Whitecaps FC first facing the Dynamo in Houston, Texas, on April 10. The 'Caps suffered a 3-1 defeat at Robertson Stadium that day, with the Dynamo getting first-half goals from Weaver and Boswell before Camilo replied for Vancouver before halftime. Bruin sealed all three points with a late second-half strike.
The only other time Whitecaps FC faced a team from 'Space City' was during the North American Soccer League days when the 'Caps lost 1-0 at home to Houston Hurricane on June 2, 1979. Today's match is also the 47th time that Whitecaps FC play a Texas-based outfit since 1974. The 'Caps have an overall record of 27W-15L-4D versus clubs from 'The Lone Star State', including an impressive record of 20W-3L-2D versus Texas clubs in Vancouver.
Before this season, two Dynamo players faced Whitecaps FC in Vancouver during the North American second division era. On September 1, 2003, Houston defender Eddie Robinson scored for MLS club San Jose Earthquakes in a 4-3 friendly win over Whitecaps FC at Swangard Stadium. In the 2006 United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1) campaign, Weaver scored both goals as a member of former USL-1 club Seattle Sounders during a 2-2 draw with the 'Caps at Swangard on May 26, 2006.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK…
Following Saturday's home match, Whitecaps FC will take the 'Labour Day' long weekend off before returning to MLS action on Saturday, September 10, when they pay their first-ever visit to Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, to face Eastern Conference club New York Red Bulls. Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m. PT and is live on Rogers Sportsnet Pacific and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to the September 10 contest live on TEAM 1040 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 2:30 p.m. PT. TEAM 1040 will also have a two-hour post-game show.
MLS single match tickets are also available for the last remaining game at Empire Field versus Pacific Northwest rivals Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday, September 24, and range from $20 to $55 (including HST). All tickets are subject to applicable service charges and fees. Fans can purchase these tickets at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca/whitecaps, or Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS (1.855.646.2277).