VANCOUVER, BC – After two weeks on the road, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (1W-2L-0D) return to BC Place on Saturday to host the all of a sudden high-flying Houston Dynamo (1W-1L-1D).
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. PT | TV: TSN 2 | RADIO: TSN 1040
Here’s everything you need to know about the match.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
The ‘Caps are coming off their first win of 2016 – a 2-1 road victory over Seattle Sounders FC.
Now, they’re hoping to get into the win column at BC Place. But it certainly won’t be easy, considering they’ll be missing centre backs Tim Parker and Kendall Waston, midfielder Christian Bolaños, and striker Blas Pérez due to international duty. All four players started against Seattle.
"We claim to have good depth to this team and we’ll be able to show it now," said Whitecaps FC goalkeeper David Ousted. "I have no problems with the guys coming in. The guys who are next in line are ready to step up. It shouldn’t be an excuse."
The big question for Whitecaps FC becomes: who slots in at centre back?
Options include veteran Pa-Modou Kah, whose training was limited during the preseason due to injury, rookie Cole Seiler, or even the likes of midfielder Andrew Jacobson and fullback Jordan Harvey, who have both filled in at centre back before.
“I’d be more than willing,” Harvey said. “When I have played there, I’ve had a great time. It’s been fun. But we have willing and able centre backs to fill in those spots, so we’ll see.”
There’s something silly going on in Houston.
Through three matches, the Dynamo have scored a whopping 11 goals. That’s a new MLS record – and at least four more goals than any team so far this season.
Striker Will Bruin leads the way offensively with three goals, followed by newcomer Andrew Wenger with two. Five other players have found the scoresheet. It’s an impressive start for a Dynamo side that missed out on the playoffs last season. At the same time, they've conceded seven goals, which is the second most in the league.
Houston fell 4-3 to New York Red Bulls last weekend, though they were missing goalkeeper Tyler Deric, midfielder Cristian Maidana, and forward Giles Barnes due to injury.
Vancouver: Christian Bolaños (Costa Rica), Marco Bustos (Canada U-20), Marco Carducci (Canada U-20), Tim Parker (U.S. U-23), Blas Pérez (Panama), Kendall Waston (Costa Rica)
Houston: Boniek Garcia (Honduras), Erick Torres (Mexico U-23)
Vancouver: OUT: Christian Dean (left foot), OUT: Russell Teibert (left calf)
Houston: OUT: Collen Warner (hamstring), Tyler Deric (right abdominal strain), Cristian Maidana (head), Giles Barnes (hamstring)
Insert Whitecaps FC centre back here vs. Will Bruin (F): Bruin leads Houston with three goals thus far. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound striker, whose work rate is among the best in MLS, also has a pair of assists. Whoever the ‘Caps decide to play at centre back will have their hands full.
Octavio Rivero (F) vs. David Horst (CB): At the other end of the pitch, Rivero will be seeing a lot of Horst – a physical 6-foot-4 centre back. This should be quite the battle.
Pedro Morales (M) vs. Ricardo Clark (M): Clark, a box-to-box midfielder, is one of Houston’s most influential players at both ends of the pitch. And Morales makes the ‘Caps tick offensively – he leads the team in goals, touches, and chances created through three matches. The player who can make a bigger impact could go a long way in determining which team comes out on top.
Vancouver’s all-time record against Houston is 4W-3L-0D – the home team has won every game. Surely, the ‘Caps will be hoping that trend continues on Saturday. The last meeting between these two teams was a 3-0 win for Whitecaps FC in last year’s season finale.
Should Harvey play on Saturday, he would become the new all-time Whitecaps FC leader in MLS starts. Currently, he and Gershon Koffie are tied with 116.