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Pre-Match: Vancouver Whitecaps vs Houston Dynamo

Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Starting Lineups:

The Vancouver Whitecaps take on the Houston Dynamo this evening in a battle of team depth. The Caps are without four potential starters (Kendall Waston, Blas Perez, Tim Parker, and Christian Bolanos) due to international duty and will fill the voids with two new signings: Andrew Jacobson and Masato Kudo. The pair have been relatively untested in Whitecaps uniforms so far, and how they each fit into the squad will make for two intriguing subplots. Jacobson will be playing beside Pa Modou Kah as a centre-back (not his usual position, but a place he's familiar with). Kudo will partner Octavio Rivero up top. The big question for the Japanese finisher is whether he will be able to find chemistry with the DP Uruguayan.

The Dynamo also have their share of injuries and absences, with Erick Torres off playing for the Mexican U23's and two of the team's other star players - Giles Barnes and Tyler Deric - out with injuries. Both teams have strong starting lineups regardless, but the quality available on the bench could be a game-changer for the Whitecaps.

For the Whitecaps, this game is more important than it seems. A win against Houston would be a huge opportunity to build off of a lucky victory in Seattle last week. A tie wouldn't be the end of the world, as the Dynamo have kept up a strong run of form and will be formidable opponents, but a loss would bring the Whitecaps crashing back to Earth.

Given the attack-minded personnel and formation selected by Carl Robinson, this evening's match will likely produce a multitude of chances for both sides. Expect Kekuta Manneh and Christian Techera to make their usual dangerous runs at and behind the Houston backline and, at least, a couple of nervy moments from the Caps patchwork defense.

Prediction: Vancouver Whitecaps 3 - 2 Houston Dynamo