HOUSTON – The Houston Dynamo will play their biggest game in four years on Nov. 21, when they host the Seattle Sounders in the first leg of the Western Conference Championship (9:30 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes; TSN1/3, TVAS). But despite the looming task ahead, manager Wilmer Cabrera strikes a calm figure.
“Right now we are not thinking about Seattle,” Cabrera told reporters at practice early this week. “We are enjoying coming to practice and we will have the moment when we will think about Seattle and that will bring us a little bit of tension and we are going to be ready.”
While they may say publicly that they’re not thinking about Seattle yet, Cabrera and Dynamo will have had plenty of time to prepare by the time the game rolls around. With the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs on pause during the FIFA international window, the Dynamo will go 16 days between games.
Cabrera sees the pause as a potential advantage for his team, and noted that, “the team that works the best throughout this window, throughout this break it’s going to be able to display a better performance in this game and take advantage.”
The break has nonetheless presented Cabrera with a slight wrinkle, as three of his players racked up the airline miles. Honduran internationals Alberth Elis, Romell Quioto and Boniek Garcia were all part of their national team’s two-legged World Cup qualifying playoff against Australia, which required them to not only play two hotly-contested games, but make a trans-Pacific round trip to do so. Los Catrachos saw their World Cup hopes end on Wednesday, falling 3-1 to the Socceroos in Sydney after a scoreless draw last Friday in Honduras, with Elis grabbing a consolation goal.
While the Dynamo coach – who has not hesitated to rotate his squad throughout the regular season and into the playoffs – was coy about his exact plans for the returning internationals, he did note that traveling for so long does have its effects on the body, suggesting they might not be the players he calls upon for the first leg of the Western Conference.
“It is tough. It is tough. It is not the same when you have to travel, you know – three or four hours. When you have to travel to the other side of the world and play, with a 15-hour difference, it is tough. No matter what, it is going to take a lot of the players to recover, but we are here with 20-24 players. So, we’re fine.”