Two playoff teams from last season will kick off the MLS weekend slate when the Houston Dynamo face off against Vancouver Whitecaps FC in a Friday night matchup (9:30 p.m. CT, KUBE 57). The Dynamo are looking to see out a positive result to kick off a stretch where four of the next five matches are away from home.
Coming off a high after Homegrown product Memo Rodriguez delivered the 90th minute game-winner in a 3-2 victory over the LA Galaxy, Houston wants to ride the momentum with a victory against another Western Conference foe. The win last Saturday pulled the club up to sixth place in the conference – two points behind third place Vancouver – but head coach Wilmer Cabrera isn’t satisfied with hovering around the red playoff line.
“We do not think that because we won, we are doing everything perfectly,” said Cabrera. “We are in debt to ourselves to get a result on the road so we want to do that and we do not want to wait. We know we have to keep improving.”
Houston has taken two points from three away matches and have held the lead at some point of in each of those encounters. What’s been missing is the knockout punch, something midfielder Tomás Martínez has expressed the team has been working on in order to unlock the Vancouver defense on Friday night.
Honduran forward Alberth Elis – tied with Mauro Manotas for the team lead in goals (4) and with Romell Quioto for the lead in assists (4) – expressed that the team needs to “be ready and win on the road if we want to make it far this season,” and doubled down that the team has traveled “to Canada seeking to earn the three points.”
The Dynamo lead MLS with 11 first-half goals this season and are enjoying a stretch where the their front three are surging up the goalscoring charts. Being sound defensively, however, is the task that has proved to be more difficult with injuries and suspensions forcing the back four into a different starting combination in each of the eight matches this season.
A reinforcement has been added to the defense as Swedish defender Adam Lundkvist has joined the team in Vancouver and could debut as soon as Friday. With both clubs looking to build more consistency in the regular season, the Dynamo know they’re in for a tough outing at BC Place.
“We have to be solid and we have to avoid giving away the ball or opportunities that cost us goals,” said Cabrera. “If we have a solid presentation we will be able to achieve not only three points, but also to be able to achieve more, stability and good football on the road. We hope we can start on Friday with the solidity we need to demonstrate."