After winning the 2018 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup the Houston Dynamo find themselves back in the CONCACAF Champions League for the first time since 2013. They will kick of their entry into the tournament in Guatemala as they face C.D. Guastatoya, the 2018 Clausura champions.
Houston is one of five MLS teams who qualified for the tournament. Atlanta United, Sporting Kansas City, Toronto FC and the New York Red Bulls will all join Houston in the tournament. As is always the challenge for MLS teams in the CCL they haven’t yet started their season and are just getting through their pre-season games. Houston kicked off the Mobile Mini Sun Cup, their pre-season tournament, with a scoreless draw against Minnesota United and followed it up with a last minute win over the Seattle Sounders. Their main game against Sporting Kansas City saw them fall 4-1 leaving fans with mixed feelings about Tuesdays game.
The team spent the offseason working on their roster depth in hopes of being able to make a strong run in the CCL and in the MLS regular season. But improving depth means a lot of new faces and a lack of familiarity on the field. While the majority of the forward and midfield faces stayed the same the team added a number of new defenders. The most likely starting change would be at central defense where we saw Maynor Figueroa and Kiki Struna paired during the pre-season.
For Guastatoya this is their first time to ever qualify for the tournament. Since being promoted to the Primera Division for the 2014-2015 season they have been a contender. They won the 2017-2018 Clausura title and defeated Apertura champions Antigua to make the CCL. Last season they finished the Apertura with a 13-4-5 record and were crowned Apertura champions. However, they have had a tougher start to their Clausura season as they went winless in their first six games. But they are starting to gain a little steam as they have won their last two games both by a 1-0 scoreline.
While this is Guastatoya’s first time in CCL they do have a few players who have played in the tournament before. Defender Carlos Gallardo and goalkeeper José Calderon have both played in the tournament before albeit with different teams. For Houston this is their fifth appearance in the competition but it has been six years since they last made the tournament. In 2007 and 2008 they made it all the way to the semifinals of the tournament.
Tuesday’s game will be played at the Estadio Doroteo Guamuch Flores in Guatemala City at 9 pm CT. Then the home and away series will head to BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, TX. The second leg will take place on February 26 at 7 pm CT.