February 29. It feels like years ago, but that was the last time the Dynamo played a MLS game at BBVA Stadium. After nearly 6 months away, Houston returns home to take on in-state rival FC Dallas in the first Texas Derby of an unusual 2020 season.
After Major League Soccer took an extended break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dynamo took part in the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando in July. Houston picked up two draws in a loss, and were eliminated from the tournament in the group stage. Tonight’s match is the opening fixture of Phase 1 for the Dynamo which will see the team play 6 games over the next 3 plus weeks.
No better way to restart the season than a derby match, here are three things to watch as FC Dallas comes to town.
Looking for Win Number One
Perhaps lost amidst all the craziness of this season, the Dynamo are still looking for their first league win in 2020. The first two games failed to produce a win and Houston was unable to grab three points at the MLS is Back Tournament, which counted group stage games as regular season matches. Not only will the team be looking to taste victory for the first time this season but head coach Tab Ramos would love to get his first win in charge of the Dynamo.
Midfielder Memo Rodriguez spoke this week on the importance of securing a victory tonight. “Yeah, I think it is important for the team. Also for Tab (Ramos), the team, the organization to just get the first win of 2020,” Rodriguez said. “We have been close to getting wins, but I think it is a matter of us closing down games, being clinical inside the box and finishing teams off. Obviously, the game against LAFC, we were up 3-1, we had a couple opportunities to score a fourth or fifth. When you keep teams around in this league, they are good sides, so you know they can be clinical with their opportunities. So, it is just a matter of closing out games.”
Rest vs Rust
FC Dallas comes in to tonight’s contest with two matches under their belt in the last week. These are the first matches Dallas has played since early March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dallas did not participate in the MLS is Back Tournament this summer due to the number of positive cases on the roster. The North Texas side earned a point in the two-game series with Nashville SC this past week, failing to score in either game. Dallas allowed lost last Wednesday in their first game against Nashville, who earned their first victory in franchise history, and picked up a draw in the second match Sunday night.
The Dynamo haven’t played since July 23. Dallas has played twice in the last 10 days. So, will the Dynamo come out rested or rusty?
New Guys....Not Yet
Earlier this week the Dynamo made two additions to the roster, trading for midfielder Wilfried Zahibo and signing striker Ariel Lassiter. In a normal year, when a team brings in new players, you expect them to be ready for the next game or shortly thereafter. 2020 is no normal year.
Tab Ramos spoke earlier this week on the additions of Zahibo and Lassiter and their availability. “Right now, we are still waiting to hear back from the league on Zahibo,” Ramos said. “We knew that with Ariel because he came from out of the country it would be a 10-day quarantine. So, he would likely only become available as early as next Monday night. Which could potentially put him into our Tuesday game. Zahibo’s case, he came in on Monday and we are waiting to hear from the league if they are expecting a 10-day quarantine or a seven-day quarantine. If it is seven, he would also be potentially available on Monday night. Which would make him available for Tuesday. That remains to be seen. So, at the moment as we prepare for the next two games coming up, we are preparing without them, because obviously they can’t practice with us. So, we haven’t seen them in any of our trainings, so we are planning more for them to be with us after the Kansas City game when we return from that one.”
Sorry Dynamo fans, looks like we have to wait a little longer before we see Zahibo and Lassiter in orange.