Rivalry Week

"More motivation": FC Dallas brace for Hector Herrera debut with Houston Dynamo

When they take on Houston Dynamo FC in a Rivalry Week fixture at PNC Stadium on Saturday (8:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+), FC Dallas could be getting their first glimpse at a new adversary they'll have to contend with for years to come.

That would be Mexico international Hector Herrera, who was announced as Houston's Designated Player signing in March. The 32-year-old El Tri staple is among a growing list of high-profile names set to join the league this summer, and will be eligible to make his club debut on Saturday after arriving stateside from Laliga's Atlético Madrid.

From the FC Dallas side, head coach Nico Estevez told reporters on Thursday that he expects Herrera's arrival will only add fuel to the in-state rivalry between the sides.

"This league is growing and you can see not only Houston, other teams are bringing good players to the league, and this is great," Estevez said. "This is another motivation, to play against a team that has acquired a player that has been good in Europe and with the [Mexico] national team.

"And for us, it's another excitement, more motivation to do a great game against teams that have good players, because we also believe we have good players. We just want to match ourselves against the best and it just gives us motivation to do the best we can."

"It means more to everyone"

However much Herrera features, Estevez said his team is preparing for a Texas Derby matchup that always carries a bit extra compared to a normal regular-season fixture.

The last time the sides met, FC Dallas pulled out an improbable 2-1 victory at Toyota Stadium on April 23, getting an 87th-minute equalizer from Tsiki Ntsabeleng and a stoppage-time game-winner Facundo Quignon that erased a late 1-0 deficit.

"I think it means a lot for us and for the history of the club and the fans," Estevez said. "We use the fans a lot here because every time – and this is what I learned as a kid in Spain also – every time you have a derby you have these maximum [intensity] type of game, it means more to everyone. It means more for us, the players, the club, the fans. And I think that energy you can see in the games."

Playing their biggest rival in what is projected to be unforgiving Texas heat, Estevez said the key will be managing the emotions of the occasion early as they seek a road result.

"For sure it's going to be hectic at the beginning, both teams trying to impose their style, trying to impose to their fans and trying to force the mistake of the opponent," he said. "But as the game settles I think because of the heat everything will calm down and it's something we're learning also here, how difficult it is to play with the heat.

"But I don't have any doubt that it's going to be emotional for moments, it's going to be hectic and there's going to be chaos. This is how we have to deal with those type of games."