Vancouver Whitecaps vs Houston Dynamo – Saturday 7:00 Pacific/10:00 Eastern BC Place – Vancouver.
It is a tight race for the playoffs in the Western Conference. Only the top six teams out of the eleven teams in the Conference make the playoffs and whereas Vancouver are seventh with 31 points out of 22 games Houston Dynamo travel to Vancouver sitting in first place in the West with 37 points in 24 games.
With just six points separating the two sides and with Vancouver having two games in hand it is a must win affair for both teams. In fact, the Western Conference is much more even than the Eastern Conference this season—whereas the Eastern Conference leader Toronto FC are 14 points ahead of seventh placed Montreal Impact only eight points separate Houston from eighth place Real Salt Lake.
The regular season concludes after matchday 34, which means that we are now two-thirds into the season. With the tight race in the West heading towards the finishing line and with the teams evenly matched this will be a fascinating encounter between two clubs that have a very distinct Latin American flavour. Colombian striker Fredy Montero, who was brought in from China last winter, runs Vancouver’s front line and together with the Uruguayans Cristian Techera and Nicolás Mezquida he has produced a deadly partnership up front.
Houston Dynamo in the meantime are coached by Colombian head coach Wilmer Cabrera. He has assembled a squad that includes 13 players who have their origin in Latin America. The biggest contingent hails from Honduras with Alberth Elis, Romell Quioto, José Escalante and Boniek García all originating in the Central American country.
The Latin American factor with the Houston Dynamo make them a fascinating team to watch. Combining technical elements with physical elements the side are difficult to play especially when forward Érick Torres is on his game. For the Whitecaps this means that they have to keep their emotions in check as this could become a fiery encounter in what will be a must win match in this tight Western Conference.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs Houston Dynamo – Players to look out for:
Cristian Techera #13 – Vancouver Whitecaps
The 1,58cm tall (small) Cristian Techera is a magician on the field. What immediately becomes apparent is his little size. His little frame should put him at a disadvantage in a league that very much focuses on athletics and strength. But Techera has thrived playing for the Whitecaps. The Uruguayan managed five goals and four assists in 21 games this season, which makes him the Whitecaps second best scorer after forward Fredy Montero.
Érick Torres #9 – Houston Dynamo
Érick Torres is one of the most talented players in Major League Soccer. In fact, observers often wonder how the striker has not managed to make a career in the neighbouring Liga MX. Brought through Chivas’ youth academy, Torres first joined Houston in 2015 on loan from the Guadalajara based club. Two years in which he scored very little were followed up with an unimpressive loan stint at Cruz Azul. Once again Torres failed to impress despite his undeniable talent. Keeping his talent in mind, Houston, therefore, jumped on the opportunity to bring Torres back this winter and the Mexican has finally found his mark scoring 12 goals in 21 MLS games this season.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs Houston Dynamo – Match Stats
- Vancouver Whitecap’s top scorer Fredy Montero has scored nine goals in 22 games.
- Érick Torres leads the scoring charts for Houston with 12 goals in 21 games.
- Vancouver have hosted Houston on six previous occasions. The Whitecaps record at home to the Dynamo is W5 D0 L1
- Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson has played seven times against Houston and his record W3 D2 L2.
- Houston Dynamo’s head coach Wilmer Cabrera’s record against Vancouver is W2 L2.
Prediction: Vancouver Whitecaps vs Houston Dynamo 2-0
Vancouver Whitecaps vs Houston Dynamo – Possible Lineups
Marinovic – de Jong, Parker, Waston, Nerwinski – Laba, Mezquida, Tchani, Davis, Montero, Techera
Coach: Carl Robinson
Deric – Beasley, Leonardo, Machado, DeLaGarza – Garcia, Cabezas Clark – Quito, Torres, Elis
Coach: Wilmer Cabrera
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at Bundesliga.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.