Vancouver vs. Houston Odds
|Over/Under||2.5 (-130 / +105)|
|Day | Time||Tuesday | 10 p.m. ET|
|How To Watch||ESPN+|
|Odds updated Monday evening via DraftKings.|
The Houston Dynamo haven’t won since mid-May but could still move back above the Western Conference playoff line with a win over the Vancouver Whitecaps in Utah on Tuesday night.
Houston is winless in its last six but has at least earned draws in four of those to remain within striking distance of playoff contention.
And a victory over lowly Vancouver would vault the Dynamo back above Portland and Salt Lake into the seventh and final playoff spot, albeit perhaps only until both those sides play Wednesday.
The Whitecaps just snapped their own eight-match losing skid with a 2-1 win over an LA Galaxy at Salt Lake’s Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday, where Vancouver has played its home games this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the Dynamo come in on nearly two weeks of rest, the Whitecaps are playing a second match in four days for the second time. They pulled off a surprising 2-2 away draw against Seattle in their first such short turnaround.
Vancouver Looks to Overcome Absences
The Whitecaps may have been underdogs against the Galaxy, but in retrospect, their victory wasn’t that surprising considering LA’s absences.
Midfielders Jonathan dos Santos, Sebastian Lletget and Efrain Alvarez are on international duty at the Concacaf Gold Cup.
Joint MLS leading scorer Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez missed a third consecutive match after a calf injury first sidelined him against Sporting Kansas City on July 4.
And after scoring a 77th-minute matchwinner against LA for his fifth goal of the season, Colombian winger Cristian Dajome is proving to be one of the better bargain signings of the last two seasons.
That alone hasn’t made up for a lack of production from forward Lucas Cavallini, who is away with the Canadian national team at the Gold Cup. But it at least gives the Whitecaps a puncher’s chance in most games.
Goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau is also on Gold Cup duty with Canada. Thomas Hasal deputized in the Galaxy win.
Can Houston Get Rolling on Offense?
The Dynamo were shut out for the first time all season in a 2-0 loss at the Seattle Sounders on July 7.
But it’s a little surprising it took so long for an opponent to keep a clean sheet. The Seattle loss was the fourth time the Dynamo produced fewer than 1.0 xG, according to StatsBomb.
Houston is also without midfielder Tyler Pasher, who has parlayed his three goals and two assists into Gold Cup duty with Canada.
Veteran center back Maynor Figueroa and center midfielder Boniek Garcia are at the same tournament with Honduras, and reserve striker Ari Lassiter is with Costa Rica.
Dynamo leading scorer Maxi Urruti has six goals and is outperforming his xG by 2.4 goals, according to StatsBomb. He underperformed his xG by an aggregate of 3.1 goals over the last three seasons.
Betting Analysis & Pick
My high school soccer coach often closed tactical talks with a simple but truthful reminder: “If they don’t score, they don’t win.”
Neither Vancouver nor Houston score consistently enough to win on a regular basis. It’s as much about a lack of explosiveness as it is about aggregate numbers.
Their 30 combined goals in 26 combined games isn’t awful, but it’s hard to go on any sort of sustained run when your team never scores more than twice in a match. And neither Houston nor Vancouver have scored more than twice in a match in 2021.
They have defensive woes as well. But Houston and Vancouver are last and second-to-last in the Western Conference, respectively, in xG created. They’re ninth and 10th in xG allowed — not a lot better but enough to suggest some of their defensive struggles owe to opponents not respecting their attacks.
In 2021, a shade under 27% of MLS matches so far have finished in draws. But that includes games played between all kinds of teams. I suspect the number would climb a good deal higher in games between inept attacking sides.
Additionally, the factors that might skew things to one side are in balance. Vancouver’s home field is more of a neutral site. Its short rest is offset by Houston’s Gold Cup absences.
Houston has drawn six times already, and combined, these teams have finished even more than one-third of the time. Even though the odds have shortened from where they opened to +245, the 29% implied probability is favorable.
You could also bet the total under 2.5 goals at +104 odds. But if I’m wrong about the offenses being worse than the defenses, taking the draw keeps 2-2 in play.
Pick: Draw +245