Trask Smith

Houston Dynamo ready for "another big challenge" from Columbus Crew SC to start the season

It was mission accomplished for the Houston Dynamo in their first match of the season, collecting the full three points against Seattle Sounders FC. Now, the focus turns to repeating that result in a second-straight game at home, Saturday against Columbus Crew SC.

Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter utilizes a 4-2-3-1 formation that features a midfield attacking line of Justin Meram, Federico Higuain, and Ethan Finlay: three vital players from Columbus’ 2015 run to the MLS Cup final.

“It’s a very good team, who moves the ball very well,” Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera said during the week. “Dangerous up front, they score goals, they have talented players, creative players, speed. Again, it’s another big test for us. It’s another challenge, a big challenge for us. We need to be very well prepared physically and mentally, because it’s going to be very tough.”

Cabrera’s 4-3-3, on the other hand, features a midfield that will have to be more responsible on the defensive side of the ball. On top of bettering their own play, midfielder Boniek García says the key is to disrupt Crew SC from what they do best.

“We’ll try to take the ball away from them quickly and try to be as explosive as we were on our last game,” said García. “They can possess the ball. They play well with the ball starting at the back line and we will have to control the spaces, cut them, press them quickly and don’t let them have much control of the ball.”

Saturday’s match could feature the debut of Colombian midfielder Juan David Cabezas. The 26-year-old was unavailable for the gameday roster last week due to a red card carrying over from his last game at his former club in Colombia.

“Very enthusiastic and hopeful to do a good job if the coaching staff needs me to,” Cabezas said. “It's a very different soccer from the one in Colombia. It's faster, more physical, more dynamic. Hopefully I am as capable as I was in Colombia and South America, to adapt to the speed, agility and that pertains to U.S. soccer.”

The Dynamo have started with consecutive wins just twice in their 11 other seasons. Cabrera’s men hope to be the third on Saturday as they aim for a fast start to 2017.