The Vancouver Whitecaps are looking to build off a few confidence boosting victories recently. The club shut out a very good FC Dallas club on August 22nd, then followed that up by winning the Voyageur's Cup just four days later. Now, the Whitecaps need to make sure they keep that same intensity up when they take on the Houston Dynamo, a team on the wrong side of the playoff bar currently, but still very dangerous.
To find out more about our foe, we touched base with Derek Stowers of fellow SBNation site Dynamo Theory.
Derek Stowers: After our midweek loss to Colorado, it's really difficult to see the team really making that final push, but it's certainly within the realm of plausibility. The Dynamo have always been a better home team and we have a number of important home matches coming up against teams like Sporting Kansas City, Real Salt Lake, and most importantly the Seattle Sounders.
The Dynamo need to start looking at each game like it's the last game of the season because each one now carries significant weight on where they finish in the season.
86F: Will Bruin has been exceptional in the goal scoring department, with 10 already. How is he finding his success on the pitch?
DS: Will Bruin is sometimes unfairly criticized in Houston. Despite his goal scoring prowess and relatively low cost compared to other top scoring strikers in the league, he gets blasted at times for his sometimes spectacular misses, poor touches, and not finding the net. While there is some truth to the criticism, it's largely out of touch with Bruin's other contributions which he's worked hard at this season such as his hold up play, which is much stronger this season, his passing, and his off the ball runs. Bruin has said in a post game press conference that he plays with a bit of a chip on his shoulder, likely due to the criticism he's become accustomed to, and he uses it to continue to work hard at his craft.
Bruin's runs off the ball have continued to improve, as seen in his goal against Portland, but overall his success or lack thereof is often determined on the service and support of the midfield. When the midfield is attacking, Bruin is always a threat, but when the team is forced to sit back, Bruin becomes isolated and as such significantly less effective.
86F: Any young players the 'Caps should keep an eye on?
DS: There are a few, though it's hard to say if any or all could be used. Owen Coyle changes up his lineups pretty regularly and makes predicting positions at times difficult (honestly did not see Alex Lima playing LB against the Rapids).
Leonel Miranda is a player capable of playing on the left or right of midfield and he plays with a lot of width - or his feet get stuck to the side line, which spreads the field well. He's creative, unselfish, can take set pieces, and has linked well.
Rasheed Olabiyi has become something of a "super sub" for us, at least in the few games he's featured in. He's an athletic central midfielder with lots of vision up the field. His combination of speed and passing make him a threat when he's on the field.
Lastly, there's Cubo (who is still considered a young player). Cubo Torres hasn't impressed me much this year, but he's the most likely of these players to see time on the field. He's extremely gifted around the penalty area and is very good at quick passing anywhere inside the opponent's half.
Lineup Prediction: 4-4-1-1 Deric; Beasley, Rodriguez, Horst, Williams; Alex Lima, Garrido, Clark, Boniek; Davis; Bruin
DS: The formation and players could easily change. Beasley and Clark were both injured, though they practiced this week - but Barnes was in the same boat and played against Colorado. I think Barnes gets the night off and Beasley and Clark get back in the lineup.
Score Prediction: 2-2
The Dynamo need points badly so they come out hard, but they fall short of the result that they really want.