HOU_050617_DeLaGarza
Trask Smith

"Emotional" and "little bit weird" return for two Dynamo defenders against LA Galaxy

The Houston Dynamo return to league action Saturday night as they visit the five-time MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy (10 p.m. CT | UniMás, Facebook Live). The big storyline heading into the match is the two Dynamo defenders who return, for the first time since moving to Houston, to face the club they helped capture three MLS Cups.

“I spent seven years in there,” said Leonardo. “My family is there, I met my wife there, my kids were born there. It is a lot of things, but I am happy to be here. This is my new team now, my new challenge and I want to win the game, get the three points, and if it’s possible I want to score a goal.”

This will be the Dynamo’s first league match since their 1-0 loss at Seattle Sounders FC two weeks ago. The team did return to action this past Wednesday as they defeated North Carolina FC 3-2 in extra time to advance to the U.S. Open Cup Round of 16.

Head coach Wilmer Cabrera opted for youth in the cup match against North Carolina, giving the majority of his starters the night off. The five players who were away with their national teams have also rejoined the group, giving Cabrera a full complement of options on Saturday night.

The Dynamo may be catching a break as LA will be without four of their big names. Forward Giovani dos Santos is in Russia with the Mexican national team in the FIFA Confederations Cup while U.S. national team midfielders Jermaine Jones and Sebastian Lletget are still unavailable due to injury, and captain Jelle Van Damme will be serving a yellow card suspension.

The Galaxy still have their customary star power in Romain Alessandrini, Gyazi Zardes and Ashley Cole. Alessandrini, one of the Galaxy’s designated players, will be the focal point as he leads the team in goals (6, tied with dos Santos), assists (6) and has started in every league match this season.

“We’re playing a team that’s hampered with injuries and international call-ups,” said defender A.J. DeLaGarza. “Obviously, we have guys out with call-ups that are coming back this week, but we’ve got to be able to take advantage of this. A team in LA that hasn’t done well at home playing against a team that hasn’t done well on the road. Something has to give and hopefully it’s in our favor.”

LA currently hold the worst home record in MLS (1-3-2), unusual for a team that hadn’t seen more than two losses a season at the StubHub Center since 2012. The Dynamo, on their end, have yet to win a road game in MLS play this season (0-6-1) and have been outscored 3-15 in those games.

“I’m sure it’ll be emotional, and a little bit weird, being on the other side of the field,” added DeLaGarza, who spent the first eight years of his career with the Galaxy. “For us, we have to come out here this weekend and get a road win from a team that is hampered with injuries and international call ups. We have to be able to take advantage of this match and get our road wins started.”