The Houston Dynamo welcome the defending MLS Cup champions Toronto FC to BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday afternoon (2 p.m., TICKETS). It will be the club’s first match at home since March 31 as the team looks to build off last week's 2-2 draw on the road.
The Dynamo are looking for no less than a win after losing their previous two home encounters. While the losses have come early in the year, head coach Wilmer Cabrera wants the matter rectified as soon as Saturday.
“The last two games we’ve played at home we have lost,” said Cabrera. “We need to fix that, whether it’s against Toronto FC or any of the other 22 MLS teams. Right now, we have Toronto FC, and that’s our focus. That’s the way we have to approach these games.”
The Dynamo will be without eight players from the first team roster for the match vs. Toronto FC. Those players are rookie goalkeeper Michael Nelson (shoulder), defenders A.J. DeLaGarza (torn left ACL), Dylan Remick (concussion), George Malki (left knee sprain), Jared Watts (hamstring), Kevin Garcia (left hamstring), Philippe Senderos (right hamstring) and midfielder Juan David Cabezas (left quad).
The good news is the team will welcome back team captain and four-time FIFA World Cup veteran DaMarcus Beasley into the fold as he returns from his first-ever red card suspension. The players have also been adamant about the subject of defending their home field as they look towards Saturday’s kickoff.
“The most important thing for us is preparing to win,” said forward Romell Quioto. “I believe that is what will take us to where we want to go, which is to be in the playoffs, and if you want to be there we cannot falter our home field advantage.”
Quioto will look to partner up top with his fellow countryman Alberth Elis in hopes of recovering the tandem that led the Dynamo to a 12-1-4 home record in 2017. Elis is has been one of the top players in MLS statistical categories so far, tied for second in assists (4), second in shots (26) behind Atlanta’s Miguel Almiron, and leads all players with 13 shots on goal.
Behind those two will be midfielder Tomás Martínez who led the way in the Week 7 MLS Team of the Week with a league-best 1,343 points in the Audi Player Index. The offense won’t be looking to pull any punches on an alternate Toronto squad as most – if not all – regular starters from TFC will be rested during this match due to next week’s second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final.
“We are pulling for them to win because we want an MLS team to win the CONCACAF Champions League, but our job and objective is to win at home,” said Cabrera. “If it had been another team, we have to go to win the same. To win because it's our function, our work and what we have to fix as a team here at the Houston Dynamo."