VANCOUVER, BC – It all comes down to this.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC (15W-13L-5D) will learn their playoff fate on Sunday, when they host Houston Dynamo (11W-13L-9D) on the final day of the 2015 MLS regular season – also known as #DecisionDay.
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The ‘Caps already clinched a playoff berth back on October 7, but they could end up anywhere from second to sixth in the log-jammed Western Conference. There are still several different scenarios that could play out, but a win against Houston would secure Vancouver’s first-ever home playoff game.
A top two finish, which comes with a bye to the conference semifinals, is also within reach. For that to happen, though, LA Galaxy would need to drop points at Sporting KC on Sunday.
All of Sunday’s Western Conference matches will be played concurrently at 4 p.m. PT.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
For Whitecaps FC, the big question heading into this weekend is: who’s healthy and who’s not?
Captain Pedro Morales (hamstring) has been ruled out – that we know for sure. And defender Pa-Modou Kah (groin) is unavailable due to caution accumulation, so his readiness is a moot point.
That leaves attacking midfielders Nicolas Mezquida (hamstring), Mauro Rosales (adductor), and Cristian Techera (hamstring). All three players have proven capable of opening up a game, which has been a challenge for the ‘Caps as of late.
Will they return to the lineup on Sunday? And if so, how many minutes will they get?
The ‘Caps, who are currently third in the West with 50 points, need one more point to set a new club record in the MLS era.
Houston saw their playoff dreams come to an end last weekend as a result of a 1-1 draw with Seattle Sounders FC. Now, it’s about playing for pride – and jobs.
Dynamo head coach Owen Coyle said “one or two of the younger players” will get a look on Sunday, including Mexican striker Erick “Cubo” Torres. After scoring 15 goals in 29 matches with Chivas USA last season, the 22-year-old has yet to find the back of the net with Houston in just 10 appearances this season. He seems to have a knack for scoring against Vancouver though.
In five appearances against Whitecaps FC, Torres has four goals and one assist. Three of those goals came at BC Place. With numbers like that, he’ll have to be a player to watch.
Other players to watch include striker Will Bruin, who leads the team with 11 goals, and midfielder Brad Davis, who leads the team with 10 assists.
This will be the second meeting between Vancouver and Houston this season.
The first game, which took place on August 29 in Texas, ended in a 2-0 win for Houston after Matias Laba and Kendall Waston were both ejected for a pair of yellow cards.
Vancouver’s all-time record against Houston is 3W-3L-0D – the home team has won every game.
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