Three days after a disappointing loss to Charlotte FC, head coach Paulo Nagamura addressed the media following Thursday's training session. it was a more upbeat matter of fact moment for the coach whose team desperately needs a home win on Saturday night.
"This is (for the series) against Dallas, a classico," began Nagamura. "Players are ready mentally. We're preparing them technically, tactically, physically as well. Players will be ready when they step on the field.”
The 50th edition of meetings between these two clubs is almost even as it could be. Over all FCD has just one more win however in the Bayou City it hasn't been quite so even. Twenty two matches have been played outside of Dallas and the Dynamo have defended the home turf well with 10 wins and eight draws.
Saturday night officially marks the beginning of the Hector Herrera era in Houston. It appeared that Nagamura realizes that much of the fanbase is hoping the new midfielder is the missing piece. He emphatically reminded the media that Herrera is not the end all be all to the Dynamo inconsistency.
“He's going to raise the quality of our team," continued Nagamura. "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.”
One difference outside of Herrera is Sebastian Ferreira's ability to score in the big moments. Nothing less is expected of the young forward on Saturday night.
“Sebas (Ferreira) is cool in those big games but he did score in other games as well," concluded Nagamura. "For us, those goals were massive as well. Every player treats the classico differently, some are more comfortable with the pressure and others not as much. Every player is different. The preparation is more about asking the player what they did differently, but in terms of my point of view, I think it's great to have Sabas performing or contributing in games like that for us.”
Speaking of Sebas, Houston is unbeaten at home (3-1-0) when he scores in a match.
Here are some other notes of interest in Houston's favor. The Dynamo in 2022 are 6-1-0 when scoring first in a match and undefeated when leading at the half. Even better, they are 4-1-2 at home when playing on a Saturday night. Houston is also unbeaten at home in the last eight matches with FC Dallas on their home turf.
FCD sits six points clear of Houston in fifth place in the Western Conference table while Houston is eleventh. Houston has not forgotten the late surrender of goals in a 2-1 loss in Dallas back in April. FCD has been doing the same this year, dropping three games late. The games in Houston have never been easy. The Dynamo have averaged nearly two goals a match in the clasico on their home pitch yet that has been much needed as they surrender nearly a goal and half to FC Dallas.
Houston with a win retains El Capitan after winning it last season for the first .time since 2018. Kick-off is slated for 7:30pm CT.