The Houston Dynamo waited until the 55th minute to debut their new superstar Hector Herrera. SInce his signing, Herrera had been hyped as the difference maker the Dynamo needed and he wasted little time delivering on the promise.
The Mexican team captain's MLS debut was everything the 21,000 plus fans in attendance on Saturday night dreamed it would be. For months, they waited for his arrival. The excitement grew with each passing day. Although not announced, the expectation was that he would debut (read start) on July 9th in the Texas Derby. Fans were definitively disappointed when he showed on the bench. Dynamo head coach Paulo Nagamura surmised it perfectly; "He has only been here with us for one week."
Herrera, until Saturday had not played in a competitive match since June 5th. Bearing that in mind, not having a 90 minute fit Herrera was not a strategically smart move to place him in the Starting XI. Nagamura's use of him as a sub was a responsible move by a coach who is charged not only with putting his players in the best spots to succeed but by a coach who is charged with winning.
"We have to make sure that we manage him physically well because he just joined us," continued Nagamura. "Again, he is not the solution but he is definitely going to increase the quality of our team and we just got to find ways of how we can put him on our team that he can play his best soccer and make the guys around him better. So, I’m pleased with his debut. I think he was a very positive debut and we build from this.”
Rookie forward Thor UHlfarrson entered the match at the same time as Herrera. Fourteen minutes later, the rookie and the veteran would combine to draw Houston even at 1-1.
"He (Hector) brings a lot to the team and he's a leader off and on the pitch," remarked Uhlfarrson after the match, "so he's a great player. He brought a lot to the team when he came on which I think everyone saw."
Herrera's presence not only lifted the team but the fanbase as well. He entered to a rousing ovation that grew louder each time Houston attacked the net, FC Dallas took a flop or the officials made a call against El Naranja. At least for one game (48 minutes), Herrera showed that he is everything the players, the fans and the organization thought he would be.
“Overall, I am thrilled to finally be able to step on the field with the team," said Herrera summing up his debut. "To finally be able to participate, play a role in the game and participate with the group. I believe the team deserved more tonight, we dominated the majority of the game, we created a lot of opportunities. Once we are able to address those small details, we will see a very different team. When you look at how the team responded, their grit on the field, that shows that the team is going in the right direction and on the path to achieve our goals. My commitment hasn’t changed, when I spoke to everyone for the first time, I was very clear that I am here to win."