Vancouver Whitecaps FC head coach Vanni Sartini feels his “team is in a good moment” as they prepare to host the out-of-form Houston Dynamo.
The Whitecaps have only lost two of their last eight MLS matches and are coming off the back of winning the Canadian Championship with a penalties win over Toronto FC.
They are 11th in the MLS, five points off the playoffs, and their coach is feeling good about his side.
“I think the team is in a good moment,” Sartini told reporters.
“If we talk about big picture, there’s two seasons. The first eight games that were terrible. And then the rest of the season that has been conducted a playoff level.
“The confidence is there. Today in training was a very good mood and I hope that we can carry this mood to Friday.”
The same positivity must surely be absent from Houston’s locker room at the minute after a run of seven defeats in 10 MLS matches, including a 6-0 hammering from Philadelphia Union last time out.
And yet they remain only two points behind Vancouver, and will leapfrog the Whitecaps if they can pull off an away victory at BC Place.
Their away form has been very poor this season though, with their heaviest ever MLS loss against Philadelphia the eighth defeat in their 11 road matches.
History is also not on their side, with their last away victory in Canada coming against Toronto in 2019.
It will have to be a gutsy performance from the Dynamo if they want to halt their shocking run of form and get back in the playoff race.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Vancouver Whitecaps FC – Lucas Cavallini
The Canada international leads the Whitecaps with seven MLS goals in 18 appearances this campaign. The Dynamo will have to be aware of the striker if they want to keep him out.
Houston Dynamo – Sebastian Ferreira
The forward has had a decent first season in the MLS after joining from Club Libertad. He has registered seven goals and three assists, and will be looking for more goal involvements against the Whitecaps.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– The Whitecaps are undefeated at home against Houston (W7 D3, including match in Utah in 2021). Houston is the only team the Whitecaps have hosted more than twice without losing.
– The Whitecaps have lost consecutive home matches after losing just two of their first 18 matches since returning to BC Place last August. Vancouver have not lost three straight at home since September-October 2018.
– The Dynamo have lost five of their last seven games (W1 D1) following a 6-0 defeat in Philadelphia on Saturday. The six goals were the most the Dynamo have allowed in a match in the club’s MLS history.
– The 87th-minute equaliser against Nashville was the sixth time Vancouver has scored a result-changing goal after the 85th minute as its 10 points won on goals scored after 85′ are most in MLS this season.
– The defeat in Philadelphia on Saturday was the first time Houston have allowed six goals in an MLS match (538th regular season match). The 537 matches without allowing six goals was the fifth-longest streak in MLS history.