The Houston Dynamo play host to Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday night (8:15 p.m.) at BBVA Compass Stadium as they look to get back on track on their home turf.
The Dynamo have lost just once in Houston in MLS play (4-1 vs. LA Galaxy on April 15; 4-1-3 record), but are coming off a late 1-0 home loss to FC Dallas in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals on Wednesday. This will be the third and final meeting between the Dynamo and Vancouver in the regular season, Houston lost the first matchup 1-0 on a Pedro Morales penalty kick at BC Place but rebounded for a 1-1 draw in Vancouver in the rematch. That game was also the first in charge for interim head coach Wade Barrett, who has gone 1-2-4 in MLS since taking over (1-0-1 at home).
The Whitecaps have had a full week's rest after a 2-2 draw at home against Orlando City SC. Nicolas Mezquida and Masato Kudo scored late in the first half to reverse an early deficit, but conceded five minutes after halftime to produce the home draw. With the result, Vancouver sits in fifth place in the Western Conference with an 8-8-5 record (29 points).
Morales leads the Vancouver attack with six goals, but five of those have come via the penalty spot and none since May 22. Christian Bolaños and Kekutah Manneh have scored five goals each. Morales also leads the team with six assists, with Bolaños and Manneh again behind him with four and two assists, respectively. Manneh will be out for Saturday's match after undergoing foot surgery last week. The Whitecaps also sold forward Octavio Rivero to Colo-Colo in Chile, but just picked up Designated Player Fabian Espindola from D.C. United.
As a team, Vancouver's 33 goals scored are just one behind the league leaders but the 35 goals allowed are tied for the most in MLS. Goalkeeper David Ousted, 2015 MLS All-Star and Goalkeeper of the Year runner-up, leads the league with 77 saves while facing the most shots of any other keeper (116).
Here's how interim head coach Wade Barrett sees the Vancouver side:
"We know them pretty well, as we’ve seen them twice this year. Playing them here will be a little bit different, it’s going to be hot, it will be humid and that should be an advantage for us. We have to make it an advantage. Something I’ve talked about – when you get on top of a team and have a good spell of play we need to do the most we can to maximize that, and if it means a goal, if it means two goals, during those spells of the game you need to jump on top. Against a team like Vancouver, if we can get an early goal, I think that really helps us for the rest of the game.
"They’ve got good attacking pieces – Manneh causes a lot of problems, Morales can pick a good pass. Every single game, you have to be tuned in, you’ve got to be disciplined and you have to be prepared to battle for 90 minutes. [Octavio] Rivero is a good player but [Erik] Hurtado has done a good job coming in as well and he makes a lot of the same kind of runs. He can run into the channel, he’s got a lot of energy, he doesn’t give up on any play. They have a couple different pieces, but I still think they’re coached in the same way [as last year]. Each player brings a little bit something different."