Competition: Major League Soccer – Houston Dynamo vs. Seattle Sounders
Venue: BBVA Compass Stadium – Saturday, March 4 – 20:30 ET (01:30 GMT)
Match Odds: Houston 6/4 – Draw 11/5 – Seattle 7/4
Houston Dynamo couldn’t be facing a much bigger task this weekend as they kick off their 2017 MLS season with a home game against reigning MLS Cup champions Seattle Sounders.
The Dynamo have to improve on their 2016 regular season showing, in which they finished bottom of the Western Conference. This season marks ten years since Houston were last crowned MLS Cup winners and the competition is getting even more difficult to win with continual improvement to the quality of homegrown and imported players across the league.
Houston did have a strong preseason and while the games are less competitive than their fixture this weekend, you can only beat what’s in front of you. For new head coach Wilmer Cabrera to go seven unbeaten – six of those being victories – will fill the Dynamo faithful with optimism for the season ahead, even if they have already been written off by most.
The points were shared in each of the three meetings between these sides last season and you have to look back to 2013 for the last time Houston managed to take all three points from Seattle, so if history is anything to go by here, we can expect a close one.
The Sounders will be itching to get their season underway this weekend. As reigning champs they will feel they have a point to prove to anyone who doubted them during last year’s incredible run to the final. Seattle are the team everyone is going to want to beat so starting away from home isn’t ideal, but if they can get three points on the road they’ll show they mean business right from the off.
Brian Schmetzer starts his first full season in charge of Seattle since 2008. His appointment completely transformed the Sounders’ season in 2016 and now he’ll hope his squad can push for a impressive campaign from the get-go.
Seattle have confirmed Jordan Morris, Nicolas Lodeiro and Clint Dempsey are all available for selection from the weekend and those three definitely have the ability to be one of the most feared strike-forces in the league in 2017.
The Sounders have never won an MLS tie in the eight competitive games they’ve faced away at Houston. The last three regular season meetings at BBVA Compass Stadium have ended in a 1-1 draw.
Houston’s preseason form: W/W/W/W/W/D/W
Seattle’s preseason form: W/W/W/W
Key Stat: Stalemate – The last four meetings between Houston and Seattle have ended in a draw.
Key Player: Nicolas Lodeiro – The Sounders playmaker transformed the side after arriving midway through the season. He scored eight goals in 19 appearances and helped fire Seattle to MLS glory. He’ll now be desperate to build on those magical displays in his first full season in the league.
Houston Dynamo 1-2 Seattle Sounders – Houston know they’ve got a tough task on their hands here but it is a game they’ll be looking forward to. As history shows, they are quite capable of taking points off Seattle but this could well be the day that Seattle put an end to their winless run in Texas. They’ll have to work extremely hard to take all three points but they have the squad and talent at their disposal to make a statement on the opening weekend of the 2017 MLS season.