By Jeremy Branham

Houston (CBS Houston) – The new look Houston Dynamo will kick off the 2017 season on Saturday when they host Seattle, the defending MLS Cup champion.

The Dynamo and Seattle finished the 2016 season in vastly different ways. When the Dynamo were wrapping up their season that saw them finish in last place in the Western Conference, the Sounders were just beginning their plight to the crown.

Saturday’s match will be a good test for Wilmer Cabrera’s team. Cabrera was named the head coach in the offseason and takes over for interim head coach Wade Barrett. Barrett of course took over the team last season after the Dynamo and Owen Coyle mutually parted ways. Cabrera led RGV last season to a playoff berth, and has MLS head coaching experience with a 9-19-6 mark in his lone season with Chivas USA in 2014.

In addition to having a new head coach, the Dynamo have eight new players on the roster, many of which will be seen in Saturday’s starting lineup. While the eight newcomers provide excitement to the season, it’s Erick Torres that may be best suited to have a breakout year. Torres, who has zero goals in 22 appearances with the Dynamo, is reunited with Cabrera. In 2014, with Chivas USA, Torres scored 15 goals and was named to the MLS allstar team under the management of Cabrera.

Another small glimpse of optimism comes from the Dynamo form in the preseason. The club went 3-0-1 in Arizona on their way to winning the Desert Diamond Cup. Romell Quioto, one of two young Hondurans who will start for the Dynamo, won the Desert Diamond Cup MVP as he scored three goals in three appearances.

The opponent Saturday is a good one. Seattle won their first ever MLS Cup last season in a volatile season for the club. Sigi Schmid, a two-time MLS coach of the year, was fired during the season after a poor start. Brian Schmetzer replaced Schmid and then the club brought in some new players that turned the season around in a major way.

Nicolas Lodeiro was the biggest of those moves. Acquired from the Boca Juniors in Argentina, Lodeiro quickly put his stamp on the MLS and showed that he’s one of the best players in the league. Despite only playing in 13 matches, Lodeiro was named the MLS Newcomer of the Year and led Seattle to a 7-2-4 record and the MLS Cup in his appearances.

In addition to Loderio, the club returns the 2016 MLS Rookie of the Year Jordan Morris, and gets Clint Dempsey back after missing a bulk of last season.

One offseason addition Seattle made was to trade for former Dynamo player, Will Bruin. Bruin is the second all-time leading scorer in Dynamo history and for the first time in seven seasons will be stepping on the pitch in Houston wearing a visiting kit.

These two Western Conference foes met three times last season. The first two at BBVA Compass Stadium saw 1-1 draws both times, and the final game of the series in Seattle was played to a scoreless draw.

Listen to Saturday’s match beginning with a 7 p.m. pregame show on Sports Radio 610.


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