It's been a pretty impressive start to the season for the Houston Dynamo. They're 2 and 0 so far, and have yet to surrender a goal to the opposition. In addition, Will Bruin has already tickled twine three times already, so the Whitecaps definitely have some challenges to contend with.
Thankfully, Sean Ringrose from SBnation sister blog DynamoTheory.com has stopped by to give us some insight into Houston's torrid start, and if this Will Bruin guy can keep up his sizzling pace.
86FOREVER: In two matches this season, Will Bruin has three goals. What is he doing so well right now?
Sean Ringrose: Bruin is playing with confidence, which equates to him shooting the ball when the situation dictates instead of holding it or trying to play it out to someone else. In 2013, Bruin struggled with his accuracy when shooting, and so far this season his accuracy has been improved.
It is only a two-game span and as any fan of MLS knows two games does not really prove much of anything. I just hope the confidence is back as the Dancing Bear has been in hibernation for far, far too long.
86F: The Dynamo haven't surrendered a goal so far this season. Is that because of your goalkeeping, or backline?
SR: Both. The addition of David Horst at center back, traded from the Portland Timbers, has proved an absolute steal (even though, yes, as above it is only two games). His aerial dominance has not been lost upon fans, and his recovery pace has been second to none. The only concern is the communication between Horst and Jermaine Taylor, our other center back.
At times the two seem on separate pages defensively, and that is obviously disconcerting. On the flip side, Tally Hall has been outstanding in both matches, making some excellent saves. My biggest knock on Tally is he doesn't seem to be commanding his backline (see previous statement about disconnect between Taylor and Horst) which has led to some unnecessary situations requiring goal line clearances.
86F: Besides Bruin, who should the Whitecaps pay attention to in the Dynamo attack?
SR: There are three players linking up in the attack which were unexpected boosts from last season to this season. The first is Boniek Garcia with his move to CAM. As CAM, Garcia's movement is fluid, quick and his passes are crisp and sharp. A major reason for the team's success stems from their ability to utilize the middle of the field without having to overload it.
The second is Tony Cascio. Cascio's emergence at right midfielder/winger has allowed Garcia's move inside to CAM. Cascio aerially is a significant improvement over Garcia, but is Cascio's ability to generate his own space out of literally nowhere. He also has linked up well with right back Kofi Sarkodie, which is another bonus.
The third is Giles Barnes. Barnes has seen a rejuvenation of his career with the Houston Dynamo since leaving England to join the club.The biggest surprise, however, was just how much work he put in over the offseason. I've never seen him as fit and focused as he is this season, and it shows in the on-field product. His runs are sharp, his cuts sharper. He has a burst of speed which catches defenders sleeping. Most of all, he's forcing defenders to cover him, which frees Bruin up for those sharp runs at goal.
86F: Lineup and score predictions?
SR: Hall; Ashe, Taylor, Horst, Sarkodie; Davis, Clark, Garcia, Cascio; Bruin - Barnes
Score Prediction: 2-1 Houston over Vancouver. Houston strikes first, Vancouver counters. Both teams tighten up defensively. Go ahead goal comes late off either a set piece stunner or an Omar Cummings moment of magic (see: NYRB series in 2013 playoffs).