Every match from here to the end of the season is of utmost importance for both the Houston Dynamo and Philadlephia Union as both teams sit just below the playoff line. If defender Sheanon Williams needed any more motivation for Sunday’s match (FOX Sports 1, 6 p.m. CT), it’s his first visit back to PP Park since being traded to the Dynamo from the Union on July 23.
“Obviously spent a lot of time there, definitely gave a lot of energy and effort to that team and felt that they kind of turned their back on me,” Williams said. “So I’m looking to get back and have a good showing.”
Williams signed with the Union in August 2010, the team’s inaugural season, and became a fixture on the backline over the next five years. Even in 2015, the right back started in 15 times with the Union until being relegated to the bench at the end of June, making two substitute appearances in three games before the trade.
Since coming to Houston, Williams has started all eight matches for the Dynamo in MLS play. He and David Horst are the only two players to have every match over the last two months and even filled in at left back as the defense dealt with injuries and suspensions to DaMarcus Beasley, Raúl Rodríguez, Kofi Sarkodie and Alex Lima.
“That obviously makes things a lot easier, getting to play games which is what I wanted all season,” Williams told HoustonDynamo.com. “So it’s been a good transition for me, I’m happy to be here. The team’s really taken well to me and I’ve taken well to them, so it’s been good on and off the field.”
The off the field transition has been made even easier since Williams’ family was able to relocate to Texas after about a month away from them. The Boston native has spent plenty of time on the East Coast with the Union, Carolina Dynamo and a year at the University of North Carolina, so the introduction to the Third Coast provided a new experience for the Williams clan.
“Everybody’s here now, even the animals [a dog, Bailey, and a cat, Mowgli] are here,” said Williams. “So happy to have everyone here in Houston, they’re enjoying it so far. We’re enjoying having a new place to explore, new things to learn and explore as a family.”
As someone who has managed or played for over a dozen sides, head coach Owen Coyle understands the sentiment of facing former clubs but knows it all changes when you step between the lines: “When that game’s on for the 90-plus minutes it’s 11 v. 11 and Sheanon’s doing everything in his power to win for Houston Dynamo as are his opponents—and a lot of good friends, former teammates—but they’re doing everything to try to win for their own agenda.
“But it’s nice, I think, that Sheanon will get to see a lot of people he’s been friends with for many, many years. I know he was well-liked by the fan base there as well, so that will be nice.”
For any applause Williams receives during pre-game introductions, he will surely accept hard feelings after the final whistle if it means a much-needed three points for the visitors.
“It starts with Philadelphia and it will continue on after that,” Williams said of the need for wins to close the year. “Coaches talked with us about it a number of times, that every game right now is a cup final and we need to get as many points if we want to be in the playoffs and make a run for it.”