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Herrera set for debut in 50th Texas Derby: What to watch for

Hector Herrera is expeted to debut tonight in the 50th edition of the Texas Derby between Houston and Dallas.

MLS: Houston Dynamo FC at FC Dallas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Dynamo take on FC Dallas tonight in the 50th Texas Derby. Oh, and did we mention, Hector Herrera is expected to make his debut? Houston is coming off a 2-1 loss to Charlotte FC. Dallas played on Monday night, drawing with Inter Miami 1-1.

Herrera hits the stage

It’s time for Hector Herrera to do what he does best, play soccer. After so much hoopla leading up to this match, now they’re gonna roll the ball out and the Dynamo and FC Dallas are going to go at it. Expect to see Herrera anchoring the Dynamo midfield, likely with Matias Vera and Coco Carrasquilla (Darwin Ceren is suspended for yellow card accumulation). Head coach Paulo Nagamura spoke this week on Herrera potentially making his debut and what he will bring to the team, “He’s going to raise the quality of our team,” Nagamura said in his weekly press conference. “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.”

Derby day

The Dynamo have two Texas matches in a row with Dallas today and then a trip to Austin on Tuesday. First, the focus is on Dallas, the 50th meeting between the two clubs in all competitions. There are some great memories, and not so great memories, from derbies past but this team has to begin writing a new chapter. This game is also big in terms of the season. The Dynamo need to get back to winning games if they want to stay in the playoff picture. “It’s a huge game for us, a classico, a derby - however you call it, it’s a huge game,” Nagamura said this week. “We need to respond right away. After our last performance, we are all in agreement that we were not good enough. Especially when we play at home in front of our fans, we want to be more dominant. We play a quality Dallas team that has been doing well throughout the year, well coached with players that are very dangerous up top.”

Striker Sebastian Ferreira has played Dallas just once but the Paraguyan understands the importance of these rivalry matches. “We’re looking forward to this game because it’s a derby,” Ferreira said this week. “We have to win at home. We are obligated to win three points. We will leave everything on the pitch to earn those points. The derbies are the most important games of the season. We are aware of the importance. Every derby is different. We are preparing to win the three points at home on Saturday.”

Packed at PNC

Sunday’s loss to Charlotte had over 19,000 fans at PNC Stadium and tonight’s match should approach a sell-out. Herrera’s debut in a derby match, things could not have lined up more perfectly (well, maybe the weather could be a tad cooler than triple digit temperatures). The Dynamo need this match in front of a packed house, not only for their standing in the league but also to get people coming back to games and wanting more. Ferreira spoke about how motivating it will be to play in front of a big crowd at home. “Hopefully it will be a party that the fans enjoy and we do our job on the field,” the striker said. “Every player is motivated to play in front of a full stadium. It will be the welcome that Hector (Herrera) deserves, a full stadium.”

Availability Report

Houston Dynamo - Out: Tyler Pasher (Health and Safety Protocols), Darwin Ceren (yellow card accumulation)

FC Dallas - Out: Joshue Quinonez (ankle sprain)

Predicted Lineup