Vancouver, BC – In Major League Soccer's lone fixture of the weekend, the Houston Dynamo will head north to square off against Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BC Place on Sunday.
Vancouver is coming off of back-to-back draws in Cascadia Cup play, salvaging a point behind late equalizers on both occasions. The first draw came at home against Seattle Sounders FC on May 19 before Darren Mattocks netted a rocket six minutes from time in a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field a week later.
The Whitecaps have made a habit of striking late in games this year, netting four goals in the final quarter-hour over the course of the campaign.
"I think in a number of occasions we fought to the end of games," said head coach Martin Rennie. "I don't think there was ever a moment of doubt by that. We talked about the fact that Portland loses a lot of goals in the final 15 minutes of games. Because of that, I think it stuck in our minds.
"We just kept going and I don't think there's a lot of games you can question the quality of play by these guys. [Against Portland] they showed it again, they showed the desire right to the end."
Vancouver will be looking to get its defensive unit in order after failing to keep a clean sheet in its last seven matches over all competitions.
"For us, it's about being consistent - consistently doing well and consistently winning games," Rennie said. "When we've had our first choice back four playing, we've only lost three goals in MLS, so we want to keep our back four together as much as we can because that's a fantastic record."
Houston, meanwhile, continues to grind out results. Currently riding a four- game unbeaten streak, the Dynamo most recently came from behind to earn a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy in a rematch of last year's MLS Cup.
With Brad Davis in top gear, the Dynamo are proving to be deadly on set pieces yet again. He provided the game-winning assist against the Galaxy, delivering a perfect corner kick that was headed home by Andre Hainault.
"You don't like to go back that far, but I don't think we tested their defense from wide areas on crosses," Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear said. "Having Brad there is a benefit when you have a dead-ball situation and when you have aggressive guys attacking the ball."
Davis has become a bona fide leader with the Dynamo, but he recognizes how the entire group has matured as a team.
"We have a young team. Last year, we didn't move the ball as well as we are this year," Davis said. "I think the maturity of this group shows. There are a lot of young guys here, but we are starting to understand each other and get into a groove. Once we got the lead [against LA], we were composed. We settled down, moved the ball and made them chase the game."