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Know Your Opponent: Vancouver Whitecaps FC

The Houston Dynamo wrap up a two-game home stand this Friday night at 8 p.m. against Western Conference foes Vancouver Whitecaps FC (TICKETS). Both teams are sitting above the red line in the West, as Vancouver carries a 4-4-1 record (13 points) and a two-game winning streak into BBVA Compass Stadium.

Vancouver is entering the final match of a four-game road trip, but they’ve picked up consecutive wins in their last two games. What are they doing to be successful away from BC Place?

Well, we need to discover the secret of Vancouver picking up points and wins on the road. What I have seen from their results is that they found two different ways to win.

Falling a goal behind Montreal accelerated their desire to score goals, and they had success down the right side with Christian Techera and former Dynamo Sheanon Williams pushing forward. This was a great come-from-behind win that can be a platform to self-belief on the road.

Then they go to altitude against Colorado, what I saw was a good team shape against the Rapids. They positioned themselves to win the game and that is what they did with timely changes in the second half as manager Carl Robinson brought on wide men Alphonso Davies (yes, only 16 years old) and Brek Shea. Shea would then get in behind from a wide area to get the game-winner past Tim Howard.

The Whitecaps picked up former Seattle Sounders striker Fredy Montero ahead of this season, how does he impact their attack?

He is wonderfully skilled, can create two yards of space for himself to get a shot of in and around the penalty area. He helps their attack in that he can hold the ball up as well. With a good wide game he should score goals! He also can be a part of the build up. A player that has a lot to offer and doesn't need a lot of space to make things happen.

He is on loan from the Chinese Super League and Tianjin TEDA FC and is the big money man that has to score the vital goals for the Whitecaps. We all remember the Colombian from his time in Seattle where he was twice an All-Star.

Vancouver has tightened up defensively over the last couple of games, currently on 171 minutes without conceding a goal. Do you expect to see them come into BBVA Compass Stadium trying to sit back and not allow the counter attack, like other teams have approached the Dynamo?

Well this is the beauty of the Dynamo 4-3-3. How do you play against it? It is dangerous to invite sustained possession but it also limits space behind for the likes of Manotas, Quioto and Ellis.

On the other hand if you open up, you can roll the dice a bit with this three-pronged attack. The open game favors the Dynamo. Who believes in their approach more? Simply, this is what I like about the Dynamo's 4-3-3, it gets others to think and quite possibly alter their game, and get too concerned about it. I expect Vancouver to sit deeper but to also find timely moments of taking pressure to the Dynamo.