Houston Dynamo midfielder Hector Herrera has a fan in the form of Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin.
Herrera agreed to join the Dynamo earlier in 2022, and officially linked up with the team after the expiration of his contract with Atletico Madrid.
Having played at the highest level in Europe with Atleti and Porto, the Mexico international has made four appearances for Houston, who are chasing a place in the MLS playoffs with 12 regular-season games remaining.
Next up for Herrera and Houston is a clash with the Union, who top the Eastern Conference, but their coach Curtin is well aware of the quality Herrera possesses.
“I think Hector Herrera, for quite a bit, has been the best player that CONCACAF has had. He’s such a great midfielder, can dominate the game with possession,” Curtin said.
“He’s so comfortable and calm on the ball. Obviously has had an incredible career.He’s injected real life into Houston’s group. Obviously has a huge following and the fans will come out. I respect his game a great deal.
“With the great players, you’re just trying your best to limit the amount of time they have on the ball because they’re so talented that they’re going to hurt you at some point during the 90 minutes. We just hope that’s in parts of the field that it doesn’t hurt us too much.”
Houston, meanwhile, have bolstered their ranks further this week with the loan signing of winger Nelson Quinones from Colombian top-flight side Once Caldas.
We are excited to welcome Nelson to Houston Dynamo FC,” general manager Pat Onstad said. “He is a dynamic wide-attacking player with the ability to change a game, he will join our first team to help push for this year’s playoffs.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Philadelphia Union – Daniel Gazdag
Daniel Gazdag has been the star performer for the Union in 2022, and he moved onto 10 MLS goals for the season with his winner against Orlando City last time out.
Houston Dynamo – Hector Herrera
Having received the big billing from Curtin, Herrera will likely have to deal with plenty of attention from the Union players. But if he can escape those shackles, the midfielder certainly has the skill to push Houston to victory.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Philadelphia have won four of its last five matches against the Dynamo (L1), including the last three in a row. Prior to the last five meetings, the Union managed just three wins in 14 matches against Houston (D4 L7, incl. playoffs).
– The Union have won four straight matches following a 1-0 victory at Orlando on Saturday. Philadelphia already have one five-match winning streak this season (March 5 – April 9). Prior to this season, the Union had recorded only two four-game winning streaks in MLS play, doing so in 2017 and 2018.
– The Dynamo won their last away match, 2-1, at San Jose on July 17, just their third win in their last 35 on the road (D9 L23). Houston hasn’t recorded consecutive road wins within a single season since beating the D.C. United and the Red Bulls in October-November 2013 (incl. playoffs).
– The Union have allowed just 15 goals this season, tied with the Dynamo in 2007 for the fewest after 22 matches of a season in MLS history. Philadelphia has not allowed more than one goal in any of its last 26 home regular season matches, an MLS record.
– Darwin Quintero set up six chances for team-mates in Houston’s loss to Minnesota on Saturday, the fourth time in his Dynamo career he’s recorded at least six chances created in a match. Quintero is the only Dynamo player to do so even once since the start of the 2019 season.