Coming off Sunday's heartbreaking loss to FC Dallas in the Texas Derby, the Dynamo will have little time to regroup as the red-hot Vancouver Whitecaps come to town on Saturday. In only their third season in Major League Soccer, the Whitecaps are coming off a 2012 playoff berth and through three weeks of the 2013 season appear primed for a big year. Here are five key storylines to watch ahead of Saturday's match:
1. How will Dynamo respond following Sunday's dramatic loss to FC Dallas?
For 65 minutes on Sunday, FC Dallas appeared in control of the match. A few substitutions later, Dominic Kinnear's men had taken the reigns and looked primed to steal a point, if not more, in Frisco. But a last-minute goal by Kenny Cooper - although replays show Cooper handled the ball - gave FC Dallas the full three points and the rights to El Capitan.
That match came on the heels of a 3-0 midweek loss to Santos that knocked the Dynamo out of the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League. It's been three years since the Dynamo have lost three straight games in all competitions. Can Kinnear's squad regroup in time for Saturday's match vs. Vancouver?
2. Vancouver's internationals make first trip to BBVA Compass Stadium
The Whitecaps were a playoff team last year and with a mix of returning talent and key offseason acquisitions, look primed to make a run in 2013. Back are Jamaican international Darren Mattocks and Koreon international Lee Young-Pyo (127 caps for South Korea).
Vancouver also added English midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker, a dynamic player who has captained multiple English Premier League clubs including West Ham United and Aston Villa. Reo-Coker has more than 20 appearances for the England U-21 national team and captained the squad throughout the 2007 UEFA Under-21 Championship. This will be the first trip to Houston for each player, as the Dynamo played Vancouver on the road in their lone meeting of 2012.
3. Could Omar Cummings make his Dynamo debut this weekend?
With Calen Carr out with the knee injury he suffered in the 2012 MLS Cup final, Dominic Kinnear went out and acquired Omar Cummings, an established striker with 39 career MLS goals to his name. Unfortunately, Cummings has yet to see the field as a knee injury he suffered during a stint with the Jamaican national team caused him to miss all of preseason training camp.
However, the Jamaican international has trained in full over the past few weeks and played 61 minutes in Sunday's reserve league game at FC Dallas. Kinnear said that he expects Cummings to be in the gameday roster on Saturday but that it was too early to say what type of role the veteran striker would have. We'll have to wait until gameday, however, to find out if Cummings will make his Dynamo first team debut.
4. Houston looking to extend home unbeaten streak
Entering Saturday's match, the Dynamo's home unbeaten streak stands at 26 games in the regular season and 32 games in all competitions. Real Salt Lake holds the all-time record with 29 regular season home games unbeaten and 34 home games unbeaten in all competitions. Can the Dynamo continue their streak against the Whitecaps on Saturday? Houston defeated Vancouver in their only previous matchup in Texas, a 3-1 victory on April 10, 2011 at Robertson Stadium.
5. Can Houston stop a red-hot Whitecaps squad?
Through two games, the Whitecaps are 2-0-0 with a +2 goal differential. Vancouver opened their season with a 1-0 and 2-1 wins at home over Toronto FC and Columbus Crew, respectively. Despite the loss of Jay DeMerit to a ruptured Achilles tendon in the season opener, the Vancouver defense has looked stout. houston will have their hands full with an offense that features, Mattocks, Re-Coker, Camilo and 2013 first round draft picks Erik Hurtado and Kekutah Manneh (former Texas Rush and Lonestar SC youth product).
Tickets for Saturday's match are on sale and can be purchased here or by calling (713) 276-GOAL. Fans can also receive discounted seats through the McDonald's 4-pack. For $69.99 fans can receive four tickets to the match plus four McDonald's Extra Value Meal food vouchers. Click here for more information.