Match preview: Undermanned Whitecaps FC face Houston Dynamo

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After last weekend’s derby loss to the Portland Timbers, the Vancouver Whitecaps (6W-6L-2D, 20pts – 4th Western Conference) will look to get back to their winning ways when they host the Houston Dynamo (3W-7L-2D, 11pts – 10th Western Conference) on Saturday afternoon.

Matchup

Venue: BC Place
Date/Time: Saturday, May 28 @ 3 p.m.
TV: TSN1
Radio: TSN 1040

Time to move on

For those of you who have been following the Whitecaps for a while know that Cascadia derby matches against either the Portland Timbers or the Seattle Sounders are like Christmas: supporters circle the dates on their calendars months in advance, and then eagerly count down the days until match day.

Much like the match at BC Place between these two teams a few weeks ago, it was Portland who scored first in last Sunday’s match. The Timbers got off to a quick start thanks to a poorly conceded penalty by Vancouver’s Pa-Modou Kah in the third minute, and Vancouver went into the locker room down 2-0 at halftime.

Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson told TSN in the halftime interview that the next goal in the match was crucial. Luckily, the red-hot Kekuta Manneh scored just four minutes into the second half to give the Whitecaps a lifeline into the match.

Despite playing better in the second half, the Whitecaps were not able to capitalize on Manneh’s goal. Kah conceded another penalty in the 78th minute, and with Dairon Asprilla scoring from the spot to increase the Timbers lead to 3-1, the match was effectively over for Vancouver.

The worst bit of news for the Whitecaps was the sending off of defender Kendall Waston deep into second half injury time.

Image: ESPN

Image: ESPN

The big Costa Rican made a lunging tackle on Asprilla after the final whistle, and referee Ted Unkel immediately reached into his back pocket to issue Waston a red card. Additionally, it is now more than likely Waston faces a suspension on top of the one-match ban for the red card.

After what happened down in Portland, the Whitecaps will look to build on the lessons learned in that match and move on. It wasn’t all bad, and indeed the Whitecaps did play well at times. At the end of the day, the match will be remembered for defensive errors, Waston’s red card, and the penalties conceded by Kah.

Image: Ken Redekop / Vancity Buzz

SEE ALSO: Whitecaps FC defender Kendall Waston apologizes to fans on Twitter

Homer’s not here, man

After the Portland match, Waston, along with his teammates Christian Bolaños and Blas Pérez, all packed their bags to join their national teams for the upcoming Copa America Centenario. This means that for the next several weeks the Whitecaps will be without several of their best players, and this doesn’t even include the players that are currently recovering from injury.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNu_Cau99cs

The injured players include strikers Masato Kudo (broken jaw) and Octavio Rivero (ankle sprain). Right fullback Fraser Aird, who has served his one match ban for being sent off in the Toronto FC game two weeks ago, has not been training due to a bruised bone.

So quite possibly for the match against the Houston Dynamo, Carl Robinson may select an all-American backline consisting of Jordan Harvey, Andrew Jacobson, Tim Parker, and rookie Cole Seiler.

Seiler, 22, was selected by the Whitecaps in the first round of the 2016 MLS SuperDraft (16th overall) this past winter. The Anderson, South Carolina native played his collegiate soccer at Georgetown University, and has been a regular in the Whitecaps FC2 team that is currently top of the USL Western Conference.

In 2015, the Whitecaps led Major League Soccer with 13 clean sheets and fewest goals allowed (36) all season. So far in 2016 the ‘Caps are tied with the Timbers and New York City FC for most goals allowed with 24. Maybe a backline anchored by Jacobson and Parker is the answer to stopping the goals or maybe it isn’t, but with several players injured or away on international duty, Robinson’s options are limited.

At the other end of the park Kudo is indefinitely sidelined with the broken jaw he suffered in the recent 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire. Octavio Rivero has been limited to substitute appearances since spraining his ankle in New York several weeks ago, and Pérez will be playing for Panama at the Copa. Perhaps once again we’ll see the combination of Manneh and the once-again-relevant Erik Hurtado playing up top for the Whitecaps on Saturday.

You’re Fired!

In a surprise announcement on Thursday, the Houston Dynamo made it known that they had mutually parted ways with head coach Owen Coyle.

The official reason given for the ‘mutual’ parting of ways is that Coyle wanted to be closer to his family in England.

Under the Coyle the Dynamo had a 14W-21L-11D record, missed the playoffs in 2015, and have consistently been closer to the bottom of the standings than a playoff spot. When the 49-year-old Scot approached Dynamo management about wanting to be closer to his family, they obviously jumped at the opportunity to make a change.

With a team that includes some well known and talented players like Erick ‘El Cubo’ Torres, Boniek García, and DeMarcus Beasley to name but a few, it is understandable that the Houston brass would not have been satisfied with the Dynamo’s performance on Coyle’s watch. A replacement for Coyle has not yet been named, and the team will be managed by the team’s assistant coaches in the interim until a replacement head coach is found.

Will we see a Houston team that is revitalized in the wake of Coyle’s departure, or are they a disorganized team reeling from the chaos of a midseason coaching change? Vancouver has won the previous two meetings between these two teams, and despite the challenges facing the ‘Caps at the moment they should still be considered favourites to win this match.

Prediction: Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 – 1 Houston Dynamo

Predicted starting XI: Ousted; Seiler, Parker, Jacobson, Harvey; Techera, Laba, Morales, Teibert; Hurtado, Manneh (4-4-1-1)

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Mark Dailey I have an unhealthy obsession with the soccer, Formula 1 and good coffee. I also co-host "From the Backline", which is a podcast (mostly) dedicated to the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, MLS and all things soccer.
@markjrdailey

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