After opening up the season with one loss and two draws, the Houston Dynamo return home from a two-game MLS road trip in hopes of winning their first game of the season. It won't be an easy match, as the two-time champions host former NASL and new expansion side, Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
The Whitecaps have opened their first MLS season in dramatic fashion; winning their home opener with a 4-2 victory over Toronto FC, dropping a road game to the Philadelphia Union, picking up a last minute draw at home against Sporting Kansas City, and giving up a late lead to the New England Revolution for a 1-1 draw earlier this week. The question remains, can continue their dramatic streak on the road against a physical Dynamo team?
Houston has failed to be overly impressive so far this season, but has still managed to pick up admirable results away from home. After picking up 1-1 draws in Seattle against Sounders FC and in New York against the Red Bulls, capped off by fantastic individual showings from goalkeeper Tally Hall, the Dynamo return to Houston looking to pick up their first win of the season.
Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear will be forced to field less-than-perfect starting rosters due to a slew of injuries and suspensions on each side of the pitch. Houston will be without starting striker and captain, Brian Ching, who is out for another 1-3 weeks with a rib injury sustained in New York, as well as starting center-defender Jermaine Taylor, who picked up an injury on international duty two weeks ago. Newly acquired forward Calen Carr is still out with a lingering head injury and left-midfielder Brad Davis is listed as questionable with a nagging hamstring strain. There are also some questions about Geoff Cameron's fitness after the midfielder failed to feature in Houston's midweek overtime loss to Sporting Kansas City in a U.S. Open Cup play-in due to an injury.
Whitecaps head coach Teitur Thordarson will also have to dig deep into his reserves to assemble his starting line-up. French forward and designated player, Eric Hassli, is suspended for Sunday's match after picking up a red card in the most unlikely of fashions.
Vancouver will also be without Gershon Koffie who is suspended after picking up a red card against the New England Revolution for leading with and throwing out an elbow in an aerial challenge. Midfielders Michael Nanchoff and Terry Dunfield, and defender Greg Janicki are all listed as out for the match against Houston, while midfielders Shea Salinas and John Thorrington are listed as doubtful. Defender and U.S. Men's National Team standout, Jay DeMerit, is listed as probable after returning to partial fitness following a week out with a groin strain.
One boost for the Whitecaps is that Omar Salgado, the #1 pick (overall) in this past year's MLS SuperDraft will be available for selection for the first this season against Houston.
The Dynamo defense will need to be ready for a tough fight if Salgado gets his first MLS minutes, especially if he is supported by Camilio Sanvezzo, the 23-year-old Brazilian forward who netted two last minute goals in Vancouver's 3-3 draw last week against Sporting Kansas City.
So what will it take for Houston to get all three points today? Solid showings from the Dynamo defense at the start and finish of both halves and maybe a little bit of help from the home crowd.
"They've played most of their games at home and they've got a lot of confidence, but anybody who follows the league knows it's different playing on the road," defender Hunter Freeman said
- The Houston Dynamo reached a draw for a second consecutive week on the road, settling for a 1-1 tie with the New York Red Bulls on Saturday evening at Red Bull Arena. The Dynamo have 2 points from 3 games on the season, sitting in ninth place in the Eastern Conference.
- The Dynamo now open a stretch where they play four of the next five games at home, after coming away with points from back-to-back road games.
- "In the beginning of the season, when the team is still trying to find its groove," said midfielder Geoff Cameron, "it just shows the character of the team this year, compared to last year, where we could have lost this point (vs. New York). And I think that's a good step in the right direction."
- On Wednesday, the Dynamo were knocked out of the U.S. Open Cup with a 1-0 extra time loss to Sporting Kansas City in College Station, Texas. The game's lone goal came on an impressive curling effort from rookie C.J. Sapong, three minutes into the first overtime period.
Houston Dynamo - OUT: FW Calen Carr (concussion); DF Jermaine Taylor (R foot sprain); DOUBTFUL: FW Brian Ching (L rib separation); QUESTIONABLE: MF Brad Davis (L hamstring strain)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC - OUT: MF Michael Nanchoff (groin strain); DF Greg Janicki (R hip contusion); MF Terry Dunfield (groin strain); DOUBTFUL: MF Shea Salinas (R knee sprain); MF John Thorrington (R calf strain); PROBABLE: DF Jay DeMerit (groin strain)
SUSPENDED: VAN: Gershon Koffie (through April 10); Eric Hassli (through April 10)
- Jair Marrufo. SAR (bench): Corey Rockwell; JAR (opposite): Frank Anderson; 4th: Allen Chapman
- Marrufo MLS Career Stats: 109 games; 25.2 Fouls Committed/game; 3.3 Yellow Cards/game; 28 Red Cards (career): 40 Penalties (career)
Projected Dynamo Starting XI
F: Will Bruin
F: Jason Garey
LM: Brad Davis
CAM: Geoff Cameron
CDM: Lovel Palmer
RM: Danny Cruz
LB: Corey Ashe
CB: Bobby Boswell (C)
CB: Andre Hainault
RB: Kofi Sarkodie
GK: Tally Hall
Substitutes: Tyler Deric (GK), Cam Weaver, Eddie Robinson, Hunter Freeman, Mike Chabala, Alex Dixon, Francisco Navas Cobo
Galavision - 6 p.m.
KHOU 11.2 - 6 p.m.
FOX Sports Houston - 6 p.m.
SportsTalk 790 - 5:30 p.m.
La Ranchera 850 - 5:30 p.m.
Check back here closer to kickoff for the full game day roster for both the Houston Dynamo and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Also, don't forget to follow here for live, in-game updates and feel free to check out Dynamo Theory for Zach's game stream.