The Whitecaps had every reason to win this match.
They were missing just one player from their lineup, Kenny Miller, while the Dynamo were missing three key players, including premier playmaker Brad Davis. The 'Caps were coming off of a bye week, so they had plenty of rest. They were looking to make history, and snap the Dynamo's lengthy unbeaten streak at home. It was kismet, it was fate. There were literally no excuses for this match, the 'Caps had every opportunity to win.
The 'Caps had pretty much the same lineup they used against Columbus two weeks ago, save the young Erik Hurtado in for Miller. Head Coach Martin Rennie made the surprising move, choosing instead to sit Camilo, who must've run over Rennie's dog in the off-season. Seriously though, Rennie was looking to inject another dose of speed into his lineup besides Darren Mattocks, so he gambled a bit and went with the rookie.
In net, Joe Cannon made his third straight start as Brad Knighton once again watched from the bench. Knighton has been relatively mum on his lack of playing time, so this really isn't a story. Still, I would argue that it's an interesting storyline, given that Knighton appeared to be 'the' guy heading into this season.
Now, let's talk about the match.
The match started with an odd play, as just 3 minutes in, Joe Cannon ran well out to try and play the ball out. Instead, he was challenged by Dynamo Andrew Driver, but the ball ended up on the foot of YP Lee. However, his clearing attempt hit an official, then was served up on a platter for the dangerous Adam Moffat. Moffat got a one time shot off, but fortunately for the 'Caps, it was off target.
At 14 minutes, Cannon was pressed into action again. A Dynamo shot just inside the box hit 'Caps defender Andy O'Brien, but Cannon was able to get a hand on the ball as he fell to the ground to keep it scoreless. The 'Caps had the week off, but it was the Dynamo who looked fresh, with smothering defensive play that kept the 'Caps at bay for most of the match.
The 'Caps first good chance was at 18 minutes, and it came courtesy of the youngster. In the offensive side, Hurtado took a ball from the left side, cut into the middle of the pitch and tried a shot from around 30 yards out. It was a weak shot that was easily stopped by Dynamo Goalkeeper Tally Hall, but a glimmer of the potential that the quick, strong Hurtado has.
Despite out chancing Vancouver, and drawing more set pieces as well (the corners were 5-0 for Houston at 27 minutes) the Dynamo couldn't crack Joe Cannon and open the scoring. Instead, it was Darren Mattocks tickling twine for the Whitecaps, scoring an ubelievable goal. Following some encouraging, lengthy moments of possession for the 'Caps, Hurtado spotted Mattocks with a pass just outside the box at 36 minutes. Mattocks was challenged, stumbled, then unleashed a perfect top corner strike that made the score 1-0. In one fell swoop, Mattocks had given the 'Caps the lead, and also made me look like a complete idiot for publishing an article earlier this week on his lack of scoring. Touche Mattocks. Touche.
At 41 minutes, Andy O'Brien spotted Daigo Kobayashi deep in the box with a great ball following a free kick, but Kobayashi couldn't get a good header away. The 'Caps had really only had one good chance in the half, and they led 1-0. The Dynamo tried to change that at 42 minutes, with Andrew Driver starting the rush. His ball found Will Bruin, who spotted Warren Creavalle all by his lonesome. Creavalle looked to have a sure goal on the right side, however, he sent the ball overtop of the net for a goal kick, much to the relief of Whitecaps fans everywhere.
At 53 minutes, the 'Caps almost doubled their lead, with Darren Mattocks going end to end, then cutting into the middle of the pitch for a low shot, however it didn't fool Tally Hall.
At 62 minutes, Moffat unleashed a corner that the 'Caps couldn't clear. The Dynamo said thank you, and then Creavalle atoned for his earlier miss, tapping in an easy one. That made it 2-1, and the 'Caps had a few chances to equalize, but just couldn't do it. The best was a free kick from Camilo, who had been subbed in for Hurtado. Camilo's shot looked true, but it bounced off the crossbar, forcing me to throw my remote on the floor. No worries though, it didn't break.
Final score: 2-1 Dynamo, in a truly disappointing night. While the 'Caps didn't look awful, they didn't show up they way they were supposed to. I like that Rennie tried a different look with Hurtado, but he was largely quiet, save for his nice assist on the Mattocks goal. I've been pumping Camilo's tires a lot lately, but it seemed like the attack was much more effective with him on the pitch. He's too good of a player to be used as a second half match changer, and he really should've gotten the start tonight.
In short, this is more like the Whitecaps from the last two years, and that's not a good thing. The defence looked lost at times, which is never a good sign. I understand that Jay Demerit is out, but you've got three very solid defenders on the backline that should be able to pick up the slack.
I decided to go with myself for player of the match. Why? I had to watch the Canucks and Kings play the most boring hockey game I've ever watched, then watch the Whitecaps squander an early lead and lose to the Dynamo. I deserve something from this day.