Whitecaps FC-Dynamo Preview
Vancouver Whitecaps boss Marc Dos Santos says it is impossible to predict any result in the Western Conference, as highlighted by Houston Dynamo's recent form.
Houston beat Sporting Kansas City 1-0 in their most recent match at BBVA Stadium, only to follow that up with a 3-1 loss at Colorado Rapids last weekend.
The Dynamo have a record of two wins, two draws and two losses overall this campaign, giving them one point more than the Whitecaps, who have also struggled for consistency.
Vancouver were soundly beaten 3-0 by Sporting KC last time out, following on from a 1-0 loss to Minnesota United, but they are still just three points off third place.
"The Western Conference is so close, with teams separated by a small number of points," Dos Santos said. "Teams keep losing and drawing - it's very tight.
"Every game is decided by small details, and this will be another difficult game against Houston.
"Let's not forget that they beat Sporting in their last home game, a team we struggled a lot against. That shows how the division is. Every game has its own story.
"You can't just look at the last game they played. We will have to be at our best. We've been working to do that and we want to continue improving."
Houston have not scored more than once in their last five games, with Memo Rodriguez failing to net in any of those matches.
Head coach Tab Ramos has called for an improvement from homegrown talent Rodriguez, who has had the most shots of any Dynamo player this season.
"I'm not going to hold back - I think Memo needs to do more because he can," Ramos said. "I think he can be an elite player in MLS.
"Those elite players that play in those positions in between the lines, they're the ones that make plays - not just shots on goal but get assists and all those things. I think Memo is capable of that, so I'm going to keep pushing him."
Houston Dynamo - Tyler Pasher
Pasher is in contention to return from a three-game absence caused by a hip problem, which could be the key to getting the most out of team-mate Rodriguez. The winger's possible comeback would allow Rodriguez to move into a more central position, while at the same time giving the Dynamo something a little different in attack.
Vancouver Whitecaps - Lucas Cavallini
Dos Santos' side have failed to score in three of their last four matches and need to click into gear if they are to climb the division. To achieve that, the Whitecaps have to start getting more out of Cavallini, who is without a goal in five games and is clearly not being used to his strengths.
- The Dynamo have won five of their seven home matches against Vancouver (D1 L1), though the last six meetings have all been decided by one goal or drawn.
- There are usually goals when Houston plays, with the Dynamo failing to score just once and keeping just one clean sheet in their last 12 MLS matches. Houston has played just one scoreless draw since the start of the 2019 season, against FC Dallas in August 2020.
- Vancouver has lost 10 of its last 12 away matches (W1 D1) dating back to the resumption of the regular season in August, scoring just five goals in that time. Two of the five goals in that time came from the penalty spot.
- All but two of the Dynamo's goals since the start of the 2019 season have been scored by players from the Americas (excluding own goals). Niko Hansen, who has since moved to Minnesota United, was the only European player to score for the Dynamo in MLS in that time.
- All five goals the Whitecaps have scored this season have been on set-pieces - only New York City FC (seven) has scored more set-piece goals. Vancouver is the only MLS team without an open-play goal this season, while all other teams have scored at least two.
Updated May 21, 2021