With the impending arrival of Hector Herrera to the Houston Dynamo and Gareth Bale to LAFC, one has to wonder who might have the most impact for their club. Herrera and Bale both come from La Liga where they enjoyed success and both are the presumptive best players on their national teams. They enter Major League soccer with resumes second to none. Let's look at the expectations for both, how each fits their team and how the team with them looks going forward.
Herrera debuts on July 9th for a Houston Dynamo team that has been on a rollercoaster of inconsistency in 2022. The addition of Herrera means stability for the starting XI. Without saying it, Herrera is expected to put this team on his shoulders and right the wrongs with the club. His presence means Darwin Quintero and Sebastian Ferreria become the 1-2 scoring punch Houston needs while Ulfarrson continues to blossom. Together with Herrera, Adalberto Carrasquilla, Memo Rodriguez, and Matias Vera, Houston has a midfield as fluid and as dangerous as any in the league not to mention young. The control of the midfield makes the backline that much more cohesive. Houston can instantly go from pretenders to contenders if Herrera delivers as expected.
Bale's MLS debut has not yet been announced but the Welsh international joins a team that is rolling through the MLS schedule. LAFC has the best record in Major League soccer period. You could say the rich get richer but LAFC is there without Bale. The midfielder will play an integral role in LAFC's quest for a title but he won't be expected to carry LAFC to the promised land. He appears to be just another weapon LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo. With one of the best wingers in the world joining this already potent squad, they can't help but become even scarier.
Herrera is a creative midfielder who controls the pitch with or without the ball. He gives Houston a field general for the first time since the Brad Davis era. His ability to put the ball to the right teammate at the right time is uncanny. He also comes to Houston with something to prove. He has seen limited action over his last season with La Liga's Atletico Madrid. His hunger to show he is still one of the top players in the world is a plus for Houston.
Bale's hunger for an MLS spot is led in large part by his desire to be in the best shape possible for his World Cup Wales team that earned a spot at Qatar in November. His contract with Real Madrid expired and he was a man without a team. With a 100 international caps to his credit, he is without a doubt an experienced player coming to Major League Soccer even if it may only be for a half season.
Herrera has been a winner every where he has touched the ball. From Pachuca to Porto Fc to Atletico Madrid, he is easily the most decorated Mexican international. His resume speaks for itself as he takes on the biggest challenge of his career turning an up and down Dynamo team into a consistent winner. He will be the face of the franchise. Houston has long sought the elusive Hispanic soccer fanbase. Herrera may bring that to fruition.
Bale and Herrera are not the same player but they have similar qualities. Bale has precision control like Herrera but is faster and as a winger has the more likely ability to find the back of the net consistently. Herrera will be asked to set-up his teammates something no stat can predict effectively. What Herrera brings is not measured in stat columns.
LAFC does not need Gareth Bale. The Houston Dynamo need Hector Herrera and Hector Herrera needs the Houston Dynamo. This one feature alone makes Herrera the most impactful if not the most important signing of the two over the long term. "The Fox" may not deliver Houston to the top of the table this season but before his time is up the Dynamo will return to prominence.