HOUSTON – As the Houston Dynamo prepare for this weekend's Texas Derby against FC Dallas (Sunday, 12 pm CT, ESPN2), they will have a new face to plan for: Blas Perez.
The Panamanian striker is coming off a two-game suspension, meaning his 2013 debut will come against FCD's Texas rivals, most likely paired up with Kenny Cooper for the first time since the latter arrived from the New York Red Bulls in the offseason. It's a combination that has the power and size to match up with the Dynamo's backline, and the proven ability to put chances away.
“[Perez’s] physical, he’s good with his feet and he attacks the ball well in the box,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “They’re both big boys that can hold the ball up. If the ball gets thrown in the box they can cause some problems for you.”
Added Corey Ashe, “When [Cooper] gets around the goal he’s dangerous. You have to know where he is at all times. Him and Blas Perez should be a good combo.
Ashe will be a notable reinforcement for the Dynamo. He missed Wednesday’s loss to Santos Laguna in CONCACAF Champions League play with a stomach illness. He participated training on Friday and Saturday.
“I feel alright,” Ashe said. “I’m getting my energy back to where it was before.”
While Ashe is back, there is a little less known about the possible returns of Cam Weaver and Omar Cummings. They have both trained this week, but their game fitness is still in doubt. Weaver is coming off a hamstring injury and has been in training Friday and Saturday. Cummings has been in training the past two weeks but is still working his way back to game fitness.
“Omar’s not 100 percent. He’s only practiced for two weeks, so we’re not going to rush him because we know it’s a long season,” Kinnear said. “To have him back in training and not complaining about anything is good.”
The Jamaican international told MLSsoccer.com that he will travel to Dallas, but the level of participation is not certain.
“For me it’s about getting in some game time tomorrow whether it’s with the first team or with the reserve team,” Cummings said. “It’s a day by day process to see how far you can push it. It’s come along nicely so I’m happy.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.