HOUSTON – After a six-year absence from Concacaf Champions League competition, the Houston Dynamo have not only managed their way back, but have now advanced to the quarterfinals and will face Liga MX powerhouse Tigres UANL mere days after their MLS 2019 season home opener.
After eliminating CD Guastatoya on Tuesday night, 2-1, in a game that went later than expected due to thunderstorms, the Dynamo will now face off with Tigres, a team with several international tournaments under their belt who are considered one of the tournament favorites. They're a team that could potentially present trouble for the Dynamo, yet head coach Wilmer Cabrera has made it very clear that the team is taking their games one at a time and in order.
“We are not thinking about Tigres right now. We need to start the season very well, and the fact that we play at home is important for us. We want to dedicate all our energy to play that game. Then, when the game is over, we are going to think about Tigres,” said Cabrera after obtaining the pass to the next round in CCL.
Tigres is a seasoned squad whose Concacaf Champions League experience includes being a two-time runner-up in 2015-16 and 2016-17 — aiming to finally grasp this elusive trophy in 2019.
“Tigres is one of the powerhouses in all America – North, Central, and South," Cabrera explained. "[Their style of play] is beautiful, that is the game any player would like to play. And for our players, they are excited about it. We are going to respect the opponent, but we are going to try and play the best game of our lives. Why? Because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to play these guys over here and then over there."
Cabrera is excited for the Dynamo to represent MLS in an international tournament, and noted, "We are going to try to enjoy that, and you enjoy the moment when you win. We are going to do our best to try to play and to be a good opponent, understanding that they’re the favorites.”
He also added that Tigres has a very good, talented team, but that the beauty of soccer is that on the field, everyone is equal.
The game-to-game mentality Cabrera is so focused on is also followed by his players, who despite their excitement about advancing in CCL, are aware that before that game takes place, there’s another important game against Real Salt Lake on Saturday that can mark the tone for the rest of the Dynamo’s MLS season.
He added, regarding Tigres, "We are going to face to biggest team in this tournament; the favorite. But we are calm and focused on the next task."