Vancouver are winless in their previous five MLS encounters and four points back of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, while Orange Crush were dismantled 6-0 by the Philadelphia Union last weekend, extending their losing streak to two games.
Heading into July, the Caps appeared poised to climb above the playoff line, going unbeaten in four straight matches in all competitions, which included a 1-0 victory against the mighty Los Angeles FC.
What was to follow, though, is not what Vanni Sartini would have expected, as his team gave up a 1-0 lead at home to Minnesota United on July 9, conceding three times, losing 3-1, and they have not been able to get back on track since then.
Their goalscoring has hit a snag, with just a single tally in four straight matches in all competitions, though they did manage to come back and draw Nashville SC 1-1 on the road in their previous encounter, thanks to an 87th-minute equaliser.
If you took away their triumph at the Canadian Championship late last month, you will see that the Caps have had a hard time containing opposing attacks on their home field lately.
They have conceded three goals in two of their previous three home matches in all competitions, including three to the lowest-scoring team in MLS, the Chicago Fire.
They have conceded the third-most goals in the Western Conference (38) while also scoring the second-fewest (25), so to be even in contention for the postseason knowing all of that is a slight positive.
Counterattacking has been a big part of their success since Sartini took over, but they are still struggling to make the right decisions when creating turnovers, while having a hard time putting away their chances consistently.
Embarrassing was the word tossed around by most players on the Dynamo this past weekend, after suffering the worst defeat in franchise history.
With 11 matches to go, it is sink or swim time for Houston, who sit 11th in the Western Conference, six points back of a playoff spot.
Orange Crush were the only team in 2021 who did not win a regular season encounter away from home, and this year, that form has improved only marginally, winning three road matches but losing the other eight, conceding 22 times in those defeats.
Houston have scored a goal or fewer in eight road fixtures this season, and they have not won a league game in Canada since beating Toronto 3-1 back in 2019.
They may not look like a better team from a year ago, especially after what we saw last weekend, but Orange Crush have already improved their win total from last season by one (seven) and are only five points away from matching their entire total from 2021.
When this team can find the back of the net multiple times over a 90-minute encounter, they are nearly perfect, winning six of their seven meetings this year when that has happened, with the other result being a 2-2 draw at home to Dallas.
Javain Brown scored the equaliser for the Caps in the Music City last weekend, his first of the season, with Ryan Gauld collecting the assist, moving into a tie for second on the team alongside Deiber Caicedo with two, one fewer than Cristian Dajome.
Julian Gressel has featured in back-to-back league games since being traded to Vancouver from DC United, while leading goalscorer Lucas Cavallini has tallied the only strike for his team in their last two domestic fixtures played at BC Place.
Erik Godoy and Luis Martins are out with left calf strains, Caicedo is not available after undergoing right knee meniscus surgery a while ago, and Sebastian Berhalter is expected to sit this one out because of a right foot stress fracture.
Houston goalkeeper Steve Clark was replaced by Michael Nelson after conceding the opening goal to Daniel Gazdag of the Union, while Sebastian Ferreira and Thorleifur Ulfarsson were the last two players to score for them away from home in a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes in mid-July.
Last week, they signed winger Nelson Quinones to a one-year loan deal from Once Caldas in the Colombian top flight.
Manager Paulo Nagamura made three changes to his starting 11 against the Union, with Daniel Steres and Zeca replacing Griffin Dorsey and Teenage Hadebe at the back, while Sebastian Ferreira took the place of Quintero in the attack.
Vancouver Whitecaps possible starting lineup:
Cropper; Blackmon, Jungwirth, Brown; Alexandre, Owusu, Cubas, Gressel; Gauld, Vite; Cavallini
Houston Dynamo possible starting lineup:
Nelson; Lundqvist, Hadebe, Parker, Dorsey; Herrera, Vera, Ceren; Baird, Ferreira, Picault
We say: Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 Houston Dynamo
Expect to see a bigger defensive commitment from both sides in this one, but as much as the Dynamo will be keen to improve, the Caps newcomers have made them a sharper and more creative team, while they have a lot more difference makers who have managed to give this team some positive results.
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