Saturday, September 14th – 7:00pm
BC Place – Vancouver
Television: TSN (Canada)
Streaming: MLS Live on ESPN (US)
Whitecaps Injuries: PC (hamstring), Eric Godoy (calf), Maxime Crepeau (ankle), Brett Levis (back), Russell Teibert (neck), Jake Nerwinski (ankle)
Dynamo Injuries: AJ DeLaGarza (foot), Juan David Cabezas (knee)
Typically, the international break allows players to rest up and return to full fitness. Unfortunately for the Whitecaps, the opposite occurred. With eight players going away for international duty, and several picking up minor injuries or needing rest (e.g., Hwang), the Caps have limited availability.
Jake Nerwinski could be back in the lineup, after leaving the previous game with an ankle injury. In the match it looked pretty serious, so while he could return this weekend, having a capable backup in Sutter suggests to me that Nerwinski sits this one out.
Adnan was away with Iraq and thus had to deal with a lot of travel. In addition, he has been playing through an injury of his own. While these two things may point to it being better he sits this one out, Marc Dos Santos really has no other options with Levis and PC both injured.
Where Vancouver is least hampered is in attack. Chirinos and Reyna were both away with Honduras and Peru respectively, but I would expect both to start this week. We could see Bair play again, but I am more inclined to see Montero and Ricketts pair up top, potentially flanked by Reyna and Chirinos. If either Chirinos or Reyna are unable to go, we might see Bangoura. Remember him? He is still a Whitecaps player!
Who to Watch
Vancouver Whitecaps: Michaell Chirinos has looked good in his short stint with the Caps thus far. I am excited to see what he can do as he gets more comfortable with the club and is able to build some chemistry. Ricketts has also settled in well and has been a bit of a pleasant surprise. He has shown some positives but has also made some mistakes. I wouldn’t want him as a first-choice striker, but I am happy to have him in a supporting role.
Houston Dynamo: Are led by Mauro Manotas, who has 12 goals this season. Since the end of July Manotas has been scoring, on average, every second match. However, he has certainly been more of a threat at home than on the road. Of his 12 goals this season only two have been on the road.
The other Houston player to watch is Black Panther Albert Ellis. With seven goals and eight assists he is a well-rounded threat. However, like Manotas he performs significantly better at home. In addition, he is in a bit of a funk of late having not scored since July 3rd and only having one assist since that same match.
Who’s Going to Win
Houston is in a bit of a funk right now, and sit just above Vancouver in the standings. They have performed poorly on the road with two wins and 12 losses this season. This is a great opportunity for the Caps to grab a win. However, the Caps are missing some key pieces, while international duty has likely taken a toll on some of their play-makers (Hwang, Adnan, Chirinos, and Reyna). This match could go either way, or the Caps could pick up their 10th draw this season, and fifth at home. It could be a very interesting match or a VERY boring match. Despite the difficulties in doing so these days, I am going to remain positive and say that the Caps can surprise and pull one out.