Where: PNC Stadium, Houston, TX
When: Saturday, March 12th at 3:30 pm PST
How: TSN1, TSN4 (TV); AM730 (Radio); TSN Direct, ESPN+ (Internet)
The start of the 2022 season has been stagnant for both Vancouver and Houston, with both sides limited to zero goals across a road loss and a home draw.
All time, the ‘Caps are 8-5-6 against Houston with a +3 GD, which is great, until you factor in their record at PNC: a dismal 1-2-6 record, with a differential of -7. Yikes.
What Happened Last
The ‘Caps and Dynamo faced off three times last season, with Houston winning 2-1 at home, while a pair of matches at BC Place both resulted in a 0-0 draw.
You don’t remember any of this happening, you say? I don’t blame you: the average xG across all three matches for Vancouver and Houston were respectively 0.67 and 1.1. Not the most adrenaline-pumping of head-to-heads in the league.
As of Friday evening, only Caio Alexandre (foot) and Erik Godoy (calf) were listed as Out, per the MLS Availability Report. However, this week saw the return of Brian White to full training, so that’s awesome!
Does this mean he’ll start on Saturday? No, no it does not:
Potential Vancouver Lineup - Hasal; Jungwirth, Veselinovic, Blackmon; Dajome, Owusu, Teibert, Brown; Gauld; Caicedo, Cavallini.
As for the Dynamo...
Must be nice, guys, but I sure as heck wouldn’t get used to it.
Potential Houston Lineup - Clark; Lundqvist, Steres, Parker, Valentin; Picault, Ceren, Vera, Rodriguez, Baird; Ferreira.
What’s Up With The Enemy?
Houston has started the 2022 season in the same fashion as Vancouver: with a scoreless draw at home and an away shutout loss. To their credit, the Dynamo neutralized Sporting Kansas City at the cauldron, limiting a front-foot, attacking side to a single goal, notably coming off a blocked shot that fell to a deep-trailing midfielder with plenty of space to shoot.
The draw at home to RSL had to have been far more frustrating, given how Houston dominated in possession but could only generate two shots on target. It’s arguably a matter of time before their January DP signing, Sebastian Ferreira out of Libertad in Paraguay, finds his footing in MLS and builds upon the 6.3-performance ratings (according to FotMob) he’s put together so far this season.
As for the backline, it continues to be fronted by a familiar face from whom we’ve previously been reminded of the old adage, “Don’t start nothing, won’t be nothing”:
The Houston defense should be solid.
Who’s Worth Watching?
The Coming Together of The Offensively Starved
I know, two games is a microscopic sample size from which to glean anything, but there’s something to be said of how both Vancouver and Houston have yet to score in 2022. Under normal circumstances, I would dismiss this line of thinking outright, but these teams’ respective scoring history suggest otherwise.
Over the course of their time in MLS, Vancouver has averaged a GF of 1.29 goals per game while Houston sits at 1.35. Compare those totals against the histories of, for the sake of this discussion, the arbitrarily chosen Philadelphia Union and Sporting Kansas City, who boast respective all-time totals of 1.40 and 1.43, and you get a better idea of the scoring dearth I’m meaning to characterize.
In the 2021 season alone, Vancouver & Houston averaged 1.32 & 1.06 GPG, whereas the Union and SKC sat at 1.41 and 1.71. Meanwhile, the overall league average was 1.40. Knowing that neither side made significant offensive improvements during the winter break has me thinking there’s a very real possibility that goals will come by the thimble-full for both clubs in 2022.
I could be 100% wrong about this come Saturday, but the Dynamo are known to defend, even at home, while Vancouver has always been wont for goal scorers. As entertaining as this match could be, #HOUvVAN won’t be this weekend’s MLS match for balls in the onion bag.
Who’s Going To Win?
In my honest opinion, nobody. I’m going to give both teams the benefit of the doubt by guessing this one will end in a 1-1 draw, but there’s this gnawing in the pit of my stomach suggesting that Saturday will end with both teams securing their second 0-0 draws of the young season.
The theory I’m running with is that someone will unexpectedly open the goal scoring, a midfielder that on either team, really, where the subsequent lead will be lost within the following 10 minutes, on some fast-acting counterattack.
I’m truly hoping for more (specifically and obviously from the Whitecaps), but believe both teams will need a game or two more before their respective seasons begin to amp up.
Eighty Six Forever Team Predictions
Andrew: 1-0 Vancouver
Caleb: 1-0 Houston
Luis: 2-1 Houston
Sam: 1-0 Vancouver
Referee: Pierre-Luc Lauziere; AR1: Adam Wienckowski; AR2: Jeffrey Swartzel; 4th: Eric Tattersall; VAR: Kevin Stott; AVAR: Fabio Tovar.