The Vancouver Whitecaps FC return to the pitch on Sunday, April 10th, 2011 for their 5th Major League Soccer match (and 3rd in 8 days) of the 2011 season against the Houston Dynamo. The Whitecaps record sits at 1W-1L-2D while the Dynamo record sits at 0W-1L-2D. This is the first ever meeting for the Whitecaps and Dynamo and will be played at Robertson Stadium. Kick-off at 4pm, coverage begins on TEAM 1410 at 2pm with post-match coverage until 8pm. The match will be the first home game of the season for the Houston Dynamo since they opened the season on March 19th.
Whitecaps FC Report
The Whitecaps back line has gotten infinitely stronger in the past week. The ‘caps had Leathers, Boxall, Rochat and Wagner playing and looked as if no subs were present and available on the back line. This weekend, add Jay DeMerit and Mouloud Akloul into the mix. What it does is provide te opportunity to put Rochat back onto the left side of defense and slot in either DeMerit or Akloul in the middle. It now provides you with cover with Wagner. In addition, with the increased health of Davide Chiumiento into the line-up, the right midfield is strengthened and Knight can provide cover on the both the right wing and right back area. Bilal Duckett is also in the mix and could supply cover at any of the backline positions. The Whitecaps are finally finding their feet at the back and the confidence builder that last Wednesday’s 1-1 9 man draw brought will only improve the overall defensive strength Vancouver has. I could see Akloul and DeMerit sharing the duties on the backline on Sunday, slowly working them both back into the line-up.
In Midfield, times are a little more interesting for the Blue and White. With Dunfield injured and not on the trip, Gershon Koffie suspended for the match and subsequently on International duty with the U20 Ghana side, and John Thorrington, who is also missing the trip, meaning that Kevin Harmse will start in a central midfield role. With no Dunfield, Koffie or Thorrington, I would hazard a guess that Khalfan will slot into the middle to pair with Harmse, although head coach Teitur Thordarson did suggest on Thursday that Khalfan, Chiumiento and Alain Rochat could slot into the middle of the park. But Teitur has been good at gamesmanship this season with deflecting options. If Rochat does actual start in the centre midfield position, he could more than adequately fill the role after watching his varied runs on Wednesday night against New England.
Russell Teibert should return to the left flank after returning from international duty with the Canadian U20 squad. On the right side, the options include Wes Knight, Davide Chiumiento and Nizar Khalfan. If Khalfan does indeed start in the middle it will be a question of fitness for Chiumiento versus skill with Knight. Wes Knight has filled in honourably on the right side but has lacked the creative punch down that side. Chiumiento meanwhile lacks pace, but provides so much talent and skill that it will be interesting to see which direction Thordarson goes.
Up front, there is no doubt that people would like the chance to see Omar Salgado play and in front of his home states fans, and there is a very good chance they will get that chance, but Atiba Harris has been good this season and Camilo Sanvezzo has done well to remain the two starters for Sunday. Salgado should come off the bench depending on the situation the Whitecaps find themselves in late in the match. Harris leads the Whitecaps in points and has shown he can hold the ball up well. He will have his work cut out for him against tough central defenders. With Sanvezzo, the Whitecaps have a speedy forward who can play the ball off Harris and use that speed against tall, physical defenders. If Camilo doesn’t flop like he did on occasion against New England (as he picked up a yellow in that match for just that), he has potential to have a big game and cause havoc for the Dynamo defense. The Whitecaps need Camilo to be the player fans saw against Sporting KC. Houston defender Bobby Boswell has also played every single minute of every match Houston has played this season including the 120 minute affair midweek in US Open Cup play, something the ‘caps forwards need to take advantage of.
In goal, Jay Nolly will start and play. Nolly was in control of the match and the 18 yard box for almost the entire game against the Revolution, save for the final 2 minutes. He has shown that he deserves to be the starter and nothing should change for this Sunday.
Tyler Green’s predicted Starting XI
GK – Jay Nolly
D (R-L) – Jonathan Leathers, Michael Boxall, Jay DeMerit ©, Alain Rochat
M (R-L) – Davide Chiumiento, Kevin Harmse, Nizar Khalfan, Russell Teibert
F – Atiba Harris, Camilo Sanvezzo
Whitecaps FC 18 Man Roster
GK – Jay Nolly, Joe Cannon
D – Jonathan Leathers, Michael Boxall, Jay DeMerit, Mouloud Akloul, Alain Rochat, Blake Wagner, Bilal Duckett, Jeb Brovsky
M – Wes Knight, Kevin Harmse, Russell Teibert, Nizar Khalfan, Davide Chiumiento
F – Omar Salgado, Atiba Harris, Camilo Sanvezzo
Houston Dynamo Report
In goal, the Dynamo feature Goalkeeper Tally Hall has taken over the reigns in net after Pat Onstad retired to pursue a career in coaching with DC United (Onstad is now back between the posts for DC following injuries to the clubs goalkeepers). Although Hall has limited experience, just 8 career MLS appearances, the SeaTac, Washington native has done well posting back-to-back appearances in the MLS Team of the week.
On the defensive side of the ball, Houston are coming off their second worst season for goals allowed, but have been stubborn to start the 2011 season, allowing only 3 goals in 3 matches. The backline features centre back Bobby Boswell, who has played in all of the 390 minutes of the club’s season so far including MLS and US Open Cup play. Canadian international Andre Hainault is also poised to start at the centre back position and will be the backbone of the defense against Vancouver’s physical and speedy forwards. Mike Chabala and Hunter Freeman round out the backline for the Dynamo, Freeman a veteran coming from IK Start in Norway and Chabala through the Dynamo reserve squad.
Midfield wise, the Dynamo could be without veteran Brad Davis, who has been battling a hamstring injury throughout the week, but could make his return against the Whitecaps. If Davis, a right sided player doesn’t play, look for Danny Cruz, a young speedy midfielder take the role on the right. The match-up would be a terrific one between Teibert and Cruz down that side. Both Cruz and Teibert are speedy players that will get up and down the field and could be an incredible match-up, especially in the heat of Houston. Though the middle, the Dynamo have Lovell Palmer, a tough physical Jamaican international and Geoff Cameron who is looking to return to action after an injury during the 2010 season. On the left side of midfield, Corey Ashe is expected to start, a quick left-footed player and has been very versatile in the first 3 MLS games this season. Ashe has played two matches at right midfield and one at left back.
At the forward position, Houston will be without the mainstay of MLS, and all-time leading scorer for Houston, Brian Ching. Instead they will go with Cam Weaver. Weaver is a tall, strong forward that could supply all sorts of problems for the Whitecaps back 4. Weaver will likely partner with Will Bruin, the 11th overall draft pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. Bruin is also a tough, tall, skillfull player. Neither has lit up the score sheet however with only Weaver scoring this season for the Dynamo forwards.
Houston Dynamo Probable Line-up:
GK – Tally Hall
D – (R-L) – Freeman, Boswell, Hainault, Chabala
M – (R-L) – Cruz, Palmer, Cameron, Ashe
F – Weaver, Bruin
Sunday’s match is the first-ever meeting between Whitecaps FC and the Dynamo. The only time the Blue and White faced a team from Houston was during the North American Soccer League days when the ‘Caps lost 1-0 at home to Houston Hurricane on June 2, 1979. However, the weekend game will be the 45th time that Vancouver play a Texas-based outfit since 1974. The ‘Caps have an all-time record of 7W-12L-2D in Texas, with the ‘Caps holding an overall record of 27W-13L-4D versus clubs from The Lone Star State.
There are some common ties between both sets of players. Whitecaps FC defender/midfielder Kevin Harmse was with the Dynamo during preseason in 2010, while on September 1, 2003, Houston defender Eddie Robinson scored for San Jose Earthquakes in a 4-3 friendly win over Whitecaps FC at Swangard Stadium. In the 2006 United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1) campaign, striker Cam Weaver scored both goals as a member of former USL-1 club Seattle Sounders during a 2-2 draw with the ‘Caps at Swangard on May 26, 2006. In addition, Canadian International Andre Hainault will play a second Canadian side in MLS competition, the first being Toronto FC.
The Vancouver Whitecaps FC match versus Houston Dynamo can be heard on TEAM 1410 or http://www.teamradio.ca/ starting at 2pm with the pre-match show. Pre-match show is hosted by Joey Kenward with contributions from Tyler Green and David Norman. Kick-off for the match begins at 4pm with Peter Schaad and Paul Dolan calling the action. Following the match, Joey Kenward will host the post-match show on TEAM 1410 until 8pm, with contributions from Tyler Green, David Norman and Mike Martignago.
More Soccer Coverage
For a full wrap of the Whitecaps FC v Dynamo match, plus all the latest from around the world, tune in to Full-Time on Sunday at 9pm on TEAM 1040 or http://www.teamradio.ca/ with hosts Tyler Green and Mike Martignago.