Shea vs. Houston
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'Caps, Dynamo a battle of two of the best counter-attacking teams in MLS

VANCOUVER, BC – In many ways, Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Houston Dynamo will be looking at a mirror image of each other when they square off on Friday night at BC Place (7:30 p.m. PT on TSN and TSN 1040 radio – tickets still available).

Certainly, there are a lot of similarities in terms of how the two sides attack.  

Over the last few seasons, Vancouver and Houston have established themselves as two of the best counter-attacking teams in Major League Soccer. The likes of Alphonso Davies, Yordy Reyna, Cristian Techera, and Brek Shea have made Whitecaps FC an absolute nightmare to defend on the break due to their pace and ability to find space by beating defenders one v. one.

Davies, for example, is second to only Darwin Quintero with 5.2 dribbles completed per 90 minutes this season. In other words, he’s been going around defenders with ease. The 17-year-old Canadian also leads Whitecaps FC with three assists. Shea, meanwhile, is tied for the team-lead with three goals.

It’s a similar story with Houston’s Honduran wingers Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto. Consider this: at least one of the two players have directly contributed towards 12 of Houston’s 18 goals this season. Elis leads the team with four goals, while he and Quioto are tied for the team-lead with four assists.

All the players mentioned above make their living out wide, aside from Reyna who is primarily deployed centrally, which means the battle between the wingers and fullbacks is going to extremely important on Friday. These two teams love attacking down the flanks.  

That is also reflected in their crossing statistics.

The Dynamo are third in MLS with 15.63 attempted crosses per match, while Whitecaps FC are seventh with 14.1 – just behind Columbus Crew SC and Atlanta United FC. Quioto, in particular, has been a threat with a league-leading 17 successful crosses from play.

Another similarity between the two teams is their set piece prowess.

Last season, for example, Vancouver finished first in MLS with 18 goals from set pieces followed by Houston with 17, according to WhoScored.com. The Dynamo have picked up where they left off this season, recording a league-leading five set piece goals thus far. The ‘Caps have yet to score from a set piece in 2018 (though Kendall Waston came agonizingly close last weekend against Minnesota United FC), which is a part of their game they’re no doubt working to get back on track.

Regardless, there are clearly many parallels between how the ‘Caps and Dynamo play the game, which adds an interesting tactical element to Friday’s match.

And though it’s still early days, a result on Friday could go a long way for both teams.

Currently, there are two points separating Vancouver and Houston in the always-crowded Western Conference. And only two points separated them at the end of last season as well, with Whitecaps FC finishing third and Houston fourth.

Don’t be surprised if they’re battling for playoff positioning again this October.