If there’s one thing that’s consistent about the Whitecaps it’s that they are incredibly inconsistent. When things look up, they crash back down to earth in dramatic fashion, and when things are hopeless, they claw out something miraculous. Their wins against Pacific and Seattle brought some real belief to this side, yet, like the popping of a balloon, a tough loss to St. Louis on the road brought the Whitecaps crashing back down to earth.
All of this leaves Vancouver in a peculiar situation coming into their match against Houston. Undoubtedly, this latest road loss is something they want to bounce back from, but overall, the side should be pretty confident about how they have been playing, especially when trying to build hype for a Canadian Championship Final and a potential run to the MLS playoffs. Houston currently sit one point above Vancouver, and in terms of form this season, these two look very evenly matched.
Both Vancouver and Houston are still winless away from home, and neither has been very successful finding the back of the net on the road. Vancouver has scored more goals overall than Houston, with 19 GF as opposed to 13. While Houston’s talismans have been very good this season, they struggle to find goals elsewhere. The key contributors for Houston have been Amine Bassi and Hector Herrera, who each have 5 primary goal contributions so far in this campaign (no one else has more than 2). For his first year in MLS, Bassi looks to be the real deal for Houston, as the Frenchman has five goals so far on the year. Herrera, on the other hand, needs no introduction. A balanced playmaker, he has contributed to five goals (seven if you count MLS’ dumb secondary assists) and is the de-facto threat which the Whitecaps will have to watch out for.
The Whitecaps, on the other hand, will rely on a variety of attacking threats. Brian White looks likely to start after Simon Becher’s heavy minutes midweek, while Julian Gressel continues to boss his recently adopted midfield role. Already surpassing his goal contribution record from last season in an equal amount of games played, Gressel is doing a fine job covering for designated player Ryan Gauld, who is yet to find his top form. Giving Gressel ample defensive support allows him to mould into this role, and provide great performances week in and week out. Pedro Vite also looks to be on the rise, while Alessandro Schopf is yet to show his best for the blue and white. Sergio Cordova, if he can ever find his footing (it can’t be this bad, right?) would be a pleasant surprise at this point. In summation, if the Whitecaps can avoid silly defensive mistakes, they have the tools to control this match.
Vancouver has been quite good defensively at home, so short of some out-of-position shenanigans, there’s not too much to worry about. With these two teams so evenly matched, when it comes down to it, the mentality of being at BC Place seems to shift the Whitecaps to another gear, and should push them over the line in this one. While Houston has a slightly better record, I don’t think their performances have been as emphatic as Vancouver’s have been, so I can see a 3-0 win swinging the pendulum back the the optimists union midweek.
How do you think the Whitecaps stack up against Houston? Sound off in the comments below