Hector Herrera; the 2023 difference maker for the Houston Dynamo?

Nov 26, 2022; Lusail, Qatar; Mexico midfielder Hector Herrera (16) dribbles the ball while defended
Nov 26, 2022; Lusail, Qatar; Mexico midfielder Hector Herrera (16) dribbles the ball while defended / Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

The splash signing of 2022 in Mexican international Hector Herrera is expected to pay dividends in 2023. Will the splash become a tsunami for Houston or just another little ripple by a player past his prime. houston is betting on the latter.

When Houston signed Herrera last year with a mid-summer arrival, it was a big hype that turned into just 10 games played and 682 minutes. Herrera featured as a starter for El Tri yet despite averaging 70 plus minutes per game, he recorded no shots on goal, no assists and his team was outscored by an aggregate of 4-1. These numbers very similar to his 10 matches in a Dynamo kit where he averaged 68.5 minutes per match and had one assist. His team's record 2W - 6L - 2D and as you would expect they were outscored 24-13.

The brain trust led by head coach Ben Olsen is downplaying his production last season saying "It's a very, very difficult thing to transition to a new league, a World Cup looming, some niggling injuries, you come into a team that's not in great form – so I wouldn't put too much stock in last year."

Should the fans of Houston buy that thought? Should they give Olsen and company the benefit of the doubt? Let's say they should for the first 10 games of the season. Since we are expected to have a losing season and once again be near the Western Conference cellar, let's see if Herrera at least makes them competitively respectable. Herrera was brought in to be a difference maker and not just to play out the string of his illustrious career. He should be held accountable and so should Olsen.

"I have huge expectations from him," the Dynamo's new head coach said on a Tuesday media call. "And I've told him that, and he's embraced that. He's all in on this project, he's all in on the Houston Dynamo and the fans, and I think you'll certainly see a different Héctor than you did the 10 games last season."

When Herrera arrived there was no talk of a rebuild yet that is exactly what has happened which means Herrera has to deliver. According to everyone involved, this was supposed to be an impact player. As such he needs to be judged by how much he plays and how much he lifts the playing level of those around him. Can he still do that is the big question.

Owner Ted Segal sold it like this last March; “On behalf of the City of Houston and our loyal, passionate soccer fans, I’m honored to welcome Héctor Herrera to the Houston Dynamo Football Club. General Manager Pat Onstad and I have focused on identifying a difference maker for our club and Héctor’s talents make him a perfect fit.

Onstad projected it like this; "This is a momentous day for our club, the city and our league to add a player of Hector’s quality and pedigree. He embodies the new ambition that Ted has brought to our club,” said Dynamo general managerPat Onstad. “And while Hector was attracted to our sporting project, he was even more motivated to be a champion for this city. He chose Houston and we couldn’t be happier to have him.”

Former head coach Paulo Nagamura emphasized the immediate expectations even more saying “The addition of a player like Hector validates the new direction and ambitions of our club. He is the type of player who will raise our standards across the board."

Herrera got his 10 games of grace. Now it's time turn up the intensity and play like he was sold.