Mon, 04 Dec 2023

Dynamo, Whitecaps tussle for playoff positioning

Field Level Media
20 Sep 2023, 10:19 GMT+10

(Photo credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports)

The Houston Dynamo will attempt to continue their three-month hot streak and move up in the standings when they host the surging Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday in a key late-season match.

Houston (11-10-7, 40 points) heads to the midweek match in fifth place in the Western Conference, one point and one spot below the Whitecaps (11-8-8, 41 points). The Dynamo have six matches to play in the regular season while Vancouver has seven.

The Dynamo's most recent match was a 1-1 draw at home with West frontrunner St. Louis City on Saturday. Houston is now unbeaten in its last six league matches dating back to July 15 (3-0-3).

Corey Baird scored against St. Louis in the 42nd minute with a header. The Dynamo surrendered the equalizer in the 87th minute, snapping a 540-minute stretch without conceding a goal that was the second-longest such streak in club history.

"We had big chances to see that game out," Houston coach Ben Olsen said. "As these games get a little tighter and the weather now changes, the speed of the game happens and everybody's fighting for playoff spots, you've got to see those plays out. You got to give yourself that cushion because everybody's coming, and it's tough to keep teams off the board."

Amine Bassi leads Houston with nine goals while Hector Herrera paces the Dynamo with 13 assists, tied for second most in the league.

Vancouver heads to Houston for its fifth match of a seven-match road trip after a 2-1 win in Toronto on Saturday. The Whitecaps have three wins and a draw in the first four matches on the club-record trip.

Tristan Blackmon and Brian White scored the goals against Toronto after the Whitecaps had fallen behind early in the second half.

Whitecaps coach Vanni Sartini pointed to his team's maturity in rallying for the win.

"When we were down, we weren't in crisis or something," Sartini said. "We knew that we were in charge of the game and would have the possibility to score at any moment. ... We have a kind of maturity at the moment that even if we go down, we keep doing the thing we're supposed to do. We stick to the plan."

White leads the Whitecaps with 11 goals in league play while Ryan Gauld leads MLS in goal contributions since May 31 with 18 (10 goals, eight assists).

The host Whitecaps hammered Houston 6-2 on May 31 in the teams' first meeting of the year.

--Field Level Media

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