They say home is where your heart is and for the Vancouver Whitecaps, that is a true statement this season.

The Whitecaps are still winless on the road with a 0-3-4 record. But at BC Place this season, they have a 4-2-1 record. Ever since Vanni Sartini took over on the touchline in August of 2021, the Whitecaps have only lost five times.

Four games are up next on the schedule for Vancouver. Two of those will be midweek games and one of those is the Canadian Championship Final against CF Montreal next Wednesday. But first things first, the Houston Dynamo comes to town this Wednesday.

The Whitecaps and Dynamo have been pretty similar this season. They have a 5-3-5 record and are only a point above the Whitecaps for seventh in the Western Conference. Vancouver has a goal differential of two, while Houston’s GD is one.

Another thing that the Dynamo have in common with the Whitecaps is that they also have not won away from home this season. They have an away record of 0-2-4.

Sartini is confident that his squad could beat the Dynamo at home but noted that they are a good team defensively.

I think … we can play a better game than them,” said the Whitecaps head coach to the media on Tuesday afternoon. “But they are very, very hard to break. They are a very good defensive team. I don’t think tomorrow we’re gonna have our usual 15 chances because they defend very well. We’re going to have maybe five chances.”

Sartini isn’t lying when he says the Dynamo are a very good defensive team. They have only given up 12 goals all season and the third least in MLS behind LAFC and Nashville SC who have given up only 10 goals each.

For the Whitecaps, they are hoping to turn their expected goals into actual goals. They are second in expected goals in MLS with 23 behind the Seattle Sounders. But in terms of actual goals, they are 17th in the league with just 16.

Finishing is still unfortunately a frustration for the Whitecaps.

“It’s hard to channel the frustration in a positive way,” said Sartini. “Everyone sees that we’re playing well. Everyone sees that we are underachieving…I don’t want to use the word ‘unlucky’ because luck, like religion, is a senseless concept. We have to be better in finishing our chances and conceding less.”

But the Whitecaps need to keep their heads cool and find a way to unlock the stingy Dynamo defence.

“Patience is going to be very important, where we need to keep the ball and try to unlock them,” said Sartini. When we unlock them and have a chance in the box, we need to score goals. I would love us to outperform the expected goals for one time so that I would like to be called the lucky team for one time.”

Sartini and six Whitecaps players fined

During the Whitecaps’ 3-1 loss to St. Louis SC, Sartini and several players were involved in a confrontation with referee Sergii Boigo because they did not agree with several of his calls.

Sartini did not hold back on his thoughts on the refereeing in the post-game press conference.

As expected, Sartini got fined. MLS announced on Tuesday afternoon he was an undisclosed amount for violating the league’s public criticism policy. 

But the league also came down on Tristan Blackmon, Ranko Veselinovic, Luís Martins, Andrés Cubas, Déiber Caicedo and Levonte Johnson for violating the MLS mass confrontation policy. Their fines have been undisclosed.

Who to watch on the Dynamo

The Dynamo are led by former Porto and Atletico Madrid midfielder Hector Herrera who signed with them last season as a designated player. The Mexican international leads Houston with four assists.

Midfielder Amine Bassi leads the Dynamo with five goals.

Their formidable defence is led by Teenage Hadebe and Erik Sviatchenko. In goal, former Portland Timbers goalkeeper Steve Clark has five clean sheets.