Nico Estevez says FC Dallas will be extra motivated to overcome Houston Dynamo FC in Saturday’s Texas Derby following their rivals’ acquisition of Hector Herrera.
The 100-cap Mexico international was officially registered by the Dynamo this week and is in line to make his MLS debut against neighbors Dallas at PNC Stadium.
It remains to be seen exactly how many minutes, if any, Herrera plays this weekend, but Estevez expects the signing to add further fuel to an already fierce rivalry.
“This league is growing and you can see not only Houston, but other teams are also bringing good players to the league, and this is great,” he said.
“This is another motivation, to play against a team that has acquired a player that has been good in Europe and with the (Mexico) national team.
“And for us, it’s another excitement, more motivation to play a great game against teams that have good players, because we also believe we have good players.”
Herrera’s arrival comes at a good time for Houston, who have lost four of their past five games and are just as close to the foot of the Western Conference as they are the playoffs.
Head coach Paulo Nagamura is understandably excited to unleash the former Atletico Madrid midfielder, but has warned it may take time for him to get fully up to speed.
“He’s going to raise the quality of our team,” Nagamura said. “I don’t think that he is a solution for everything, but I think he’s going to raise the level of our team.
“But it takes time, right? He just joined the team, this was his first week. We’ll see how that’s going to look.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Houston Dynamo FC – Hector Herrera
Amid an influx of big-name arrivals to MLS this window, Herrera is undoubtedly among the superstar newbies having won league titles in Europe with both Porto and Atletico. The 32-year-old also boasts plenty of UEFA Champions League and international experience, but it remains to be seen just how quickly he takes to another new league and another country.
FC Dallas – Alan Velasco
Jesus Ferreira has all too often been Dallas’ go-to man this term, the forward boasting 10 goals in 18 games, but it was Velasco who netted in last week’s draw with Inter Miami. The Argentine has three goals and two assists for the season and will relish the opportunity to score in this fixture at the second time of asking.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– The home side has not lost any of the past 16 meetings between the Dynamo and Dallas (W8 D8), with Dallas the most recent away side to win in the rivalry (3-1 in August 2016). The Dynamo won the last meeting between the sides in Houston (3-2 in September 2021) but have not won consecutive home matches against Dallas since winning the first five meetings there in 2006-07 (including playoffs).
– Houston has lost eight of their past 11 matches (W3), including the last two in a row, a run that began with a 2-1 loss to Dallas on April 23. The Dynamo have kept a clean sheet in all three wins in that time, and lost every time they have conceded a goal.
– FC Dallas have won only one of their last seven matches (D2 L4) following a 1-1 draw against Inter Miami on Monday. Dallas have allowed 13 goals in those seven games after conceding an MLS-low eight goals after 11 matches this season.
– The Dynamo are the most cautioned team in MLS, seeing a league-high 55 yellow cards, averaging 3.1 per match. Ten different Dynamo players have already received at least three yellow cards.
– Velasco scored FC Dallas’ lone goal on Monday from a direct-free kick, the league-leading third direct free-kick goal for Dallas this season and the second by Velasco. Those three direct free-kick goals this season are the most in a single season for Dallas since scoring four of them in 2014.