Houston Dynamo vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Friday, May 12, 2017, 8:00 p.m. CT
BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, Texas
Winning on the road is never an easy thing to do in MLS. Winning on the road in consecutive weeks is something you almost never see. Winning three road games over three weekends seems almost impossible. Still, this is a feat that Vancouver Whitecaps FC will try to accomplish when they visit the Houston Dynamo on Friday night at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Vancouver have won consecutive road games over the past two weeks, beating the Montreal Impact 2-1 on April 29 and following it up with a 1-0 win at the Colorado Rapids last Friday night. Beating the Dynamo might be the toughest test of the three, as Wilmer Cabrera's team are 5-0-1 in Houston this season, matching Orlando City SC for the most home wins so far this season.
The Dynamo have been paced by their outstanding core of strikers, who have combined for 18 of the team's 19 goals, which are tied for the second most in MLS. Erick Torres (7), Romell Quioto (4), Alberth Elis (4) and Mauro Manotas (3), are all fighting for spots in the starting XI but one player whose spot is assured is Alex.
The 28-year-old Brazilian midfielder is in his sixth MLS season and is in the midst of a breakout year with the Dynamo. He is tied for the league lead with six assists, after collecting just four in his first 121 MLS games, and Matt Doyle put him in his best XI of the first quarter this week.
His ability to pick out the Dynamo forwards either in transition or allowing them to run on to a long ball from the defensive third has been a staple of the team this year, all while he's displayed his unique skills. These abilities, plus the work he does on the defensive end, should make an interesting night for Vancouver's three-man central midfield.
- Suspended: NONE
- Int’l Duty: NONE
- Injury Report: OUT – D George Malki (torn ACL), M Eric Alexander (right knee sprain); PROBABLE – D Agus (left hamstring), F Erick Torres (concussion)
Projected Starting XI (4-3-3): Joe Willis – A.J. DeLaGarza, Adolfo Machado, Leonardo, DaMarcus Beasley – Juan David Cabezas, Ricardo Clark, Alex – Alberth Elis, Mauro Manotas, Romell Quioto
Notes: Mauro Manotas scored two goals and had an assist against Orlando City last weekend, becoming just the second Dynamo player to score at least two goals and notch an assist in the same game since the start of the 2010 season. Romell Quioto also scored and assisted last weekend, marking only the third time two Houston players have scored and assisted in the same regular season game since 2010 (243 regular season games).
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Success on the road for Carl Robinson's team is nothing new. Since the start of the 2015 season, the Whitecaps have won 13 games away. That's the most in MLS over that time, tied with the New York Red Bulls. This stands in stark contrast to their performances at BC Place, where they have won just 17 games. The 17 wins are tied for the third least among the 20 teams who have been in MLS since 2015.
This run of form for Vancouver coincides with a more defensive approach from Robinson, who's been playing Matias Laba, Tony Tchani and Andrew Jacobson in central midfield. They have conceded just four goals in their last four games and their expected goals against value of 9.44 is good for the fifth-best mark in MLS, according to data provided by Opta. The trio of Cristian Techera, Christian Bolaños, and Fredy Montero have provided enough offensively, along with some key contributions from the bench.
- Suspended: NONE
- Int’l Duty: NONE
- Injury Report: OUT – D Brett Levis (ACL tear), M Yordy Reyna (foot surgery), D David Edgar (PCL, MCL tear), F Erik Hurtado (foot contusion), M Marco Bustos (left hamstring strain), D Christian Dean (foot injury), D Cole Seiler (left hamstring strain), F Kyle Greig (right quad injury)
Projected Starting XI (4-1-4-1): GK: David Ousted — Sheanon Williams, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey — Matias Laba — Cristian Techera, Andrew Jacobson, Tony Tchani, Christian Bolaños — Fredy Montero
Notes: Vancouver has won consecutive road games entering this weekend. The last time they won at least two road games in a row in MLS action was a three-game streak from June 6 to June 27, 2015 (28 away games ago). This is just the fifth instance in franchise history of the Whitecaps having any kind of road winning streak in MLS. (They've won three away games in a row once).
- Overall: Houston 3 wins (10 goals), Vancouver 5 wins (13 goals), 1 draw
- At Houston: Houston 3 wins (7 goals), Vancouver 0 wins (2 goals), 1 draw
Referee: Fotis Bazakos
Assistant Referees: Danny Thornberry, Cameron Blanchard
Fourth Official: Daniel Radford