2019 Match Preview #3: Whitecaps FC vs Houston Dynamo: Time to Bounce Back

After an unfortunate refereeing decision tanked their hopes of grabbing their first victory of the season against Real Salt Lake, the Whitecaps hope to bounce back Saturday afternoon against another Western Conference foe in the Houston Dynamo. After falling to fellow Western foes in Minnesota and Real Salt Lake, the Caps take their talents down to Houston, Texas, where the BBVA Compass stadium can be one of the most unforgivable stadiums in the league due to their muggy conditions. They won this away fixture last year, thanks to some scrappy counterattacking from Brek Shea, and look to rekindle some of that magic this time around, this time with a completely new squad. Houston has started the season well, picking up 4 of 6 points and making a decent run in the Concacaf Champions League, falling short to Mexican powerhouses Tigres MX. This may be a good chance for the Caps to pick up points, as Houston played their last match 3 days ago, so look for them to really go for the 3 points as they look to build some momentum heading into an international break.

Projected Starting Lineup:

Injuries: Brett Levis (Lower-Body, Week-to-Week), Jesser Khemiri (Knee, Week-to-Week)

Record: 0-2-0

Despite the back-to-back losses, there is not much for Marc Dos Santos to change here. It has been harder to read possible changes this week, compared to last week, where it was pretty evident who would get the minutes, so this may be completely off, but look for a similar lineup to the one trotted out last week. There were many fans clamouring for Joaquin Ardaiz to get some minutes as Fredy Montero has looked a bit off so far, but look for Dos Santos to stick with his trusted veteran as the international break (and some rest) looms. Crepeau, Henry and Godoy have been solid so far, so look for that partnership to continue coming off what was essentially a clean sheet for them. Nerwinski has had a bit of a rougher start to the season, with some tough penalty decisions wearing him down, but as new arrival, Ali Adnan, has not arrived yet, combined with Levis and PC’s status looking unclear with their various ailments, potential Nerwinski replacement Sutter may end up back at left Back after filling in their last match. That leaves Nerwinski another chance to get his game back together, as he works out the early season kinks. The midfield will likely be unchanged, with Erice having a solid game before being subbed off for purer offensive options, Hwang completely bossing the game and Rose doing a job in place of Felipe. There could be the chance that Teibert fills in for Rose, but Rose did nothing last week to hurt his chances of keeping that spot this match. Up front Bangoura likely makes his way back in after impressing in his spot duty in RSL, as Venuto failed to do much at all in his 65 or so minutes. Reyna and Montero look likely to stay in despite not doing much last match, but hopefully they can find their legs and impresss. Ardaiz would be a great fit for this match, as Houston love to play a streched out game that could suit him alongside Bangoura and Reyna, but look for Montero to stick around has he finds his feet in MLS again. Ardaiz will likely make way off the bench, but there is a lot of potential for him to wreak havoc against a tired backline in around the 70th minutes.

BTSvancity player to watch:

After his man of the match performance last match, today our player to watch is going to be Hwang In Beom. We held off selecting him the first match, as it was unsure if he would start, and last match, as we were not sure how he would fare on his first road test, but he has left no doubts for this one.  He has blown expectations out of the water, dominating the games in many ways that we have not seen from Whitecaps midfielders throughout the MLS era. Look for him to impress, fresh off another call-up to his national team for next weeks international break.

Honourable Mentions: Maxime Crepeau, Fredy Montero

Storylines:

The main storyline heading into this one will be to see how the Caps react fresh off two tight defeats. Still looking for their first victory through 7 games (including preseason), the Caps will look to chalk up the 3 points by any means possible. With Houston fresh off a bittersweet defeat against Tigres with a relatively full-strength lineup, the Caps will have a good chance to go for the jugular and get some positvity going into an international break. Facing Seattle in a Derby match after the break wont be easy, so going into that one on the front foot will go a long way to keeping spirits high. The other main storyline is the backlash after the whole VAR affair last week, so most people will have their eyeballs on this one to see what happens if the Caps get another close call going either way. VAR will be under a lot more scrunity than usual for this one as they cost Vancouver at least a point and possibly three.

Houston Dynamo:

Manager: Wilmer Cabrera

Record: 1-0-1

Houston are usually a solid outfit, playing good counter-attacking football while spending very little to do so. Despite that, they have acquired some solid talent in their squad, with dangerous options such as Alberth Elis, Mauro Manotas and Tomas Martinez that can cause a lot of damage on a good day. BBVA Compass stadium is never an easy one to play at, with the Texas heat bogging down a lot of opponents that make the trip over the course of the season. That advantage may be for naught on the weekend, as it is projected to be a chilly 15 degrees celcius (for people down there at least), a far cry from some of the sloggy affairs that we have seen down there. Elis in particular should have a good match, as the Caps sort out their left back issues, as he had a field day last time around, spoiled by that Caps victory.

What they’re saying:

Turns out not much as there is nothing out from Cabrera at time of publication.

Memo Rodriguez (23 old homegrown, scored a great goal last week against Montreal):

On winning MLS goal of the week: “I knew I was nominated, didnt know I won until you told me, its an honour to win this nomination, want more goals like this, more goals to come this year, and all comes part of teamwork, I didnt pass to myself and score”

On his team improving: “Yeah I think everyones working towards the same direction (…) I think everybody has to be ready, team effort from everbody we dont know when we’ll play but everybodys ready, everybodys pushing in training”

On the Houston Heat: “Yeah I think all the teams that come here slow down a little bit in minute 70, 65, and thats when we should take advantage and keep pushing forward”

Score Predictions:

Alexandre: 2-2, Lass Bangoura and Fredy Montero for the Caps, Elis and Martinez for Houston

Karim: 2-1 Houston, Manotas x2 for Houston, Montero for the Caps

Keveren: 2-0 Houston, Quioto and Manotas

Jan:  2-1 Caps, Venuto and Hwang for the Caps, Manotas for Houston

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