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MLS CUP PLAYOFFS

Héctor Herrera: “I didn’t come to MLS to retire”

The Mexican midfielder has already led Houston Dynamo to the US Open Cup and is now targeting a historic MLS Cup triumph.

What did Hector Herrera say about MLS?
Troy TaorminaUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Héctor Herrera is just two games from making history in MLS.

The Mexican surprised the soccer world last summer when he opted to move to Houston Dynamo, leaving the top European leagues where he had won titles with FC Porto and Atlético Madrid. He joined a Houston side that had not won a trophy since 2018 and was suffering a five-year spell without making the playoffs.

However in little over a year in Texas he has turned the team’s fortunes around, guiding them to the US Open Cup and securing passage to the post-season. Herrera has continued to impress in the playoffs and his side now face MLS Cup holders LAFC in the Western Conference final.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference ahead of the LAFC game, Herrera reflected on his first full season in MLS.

“When I came here, many of you said that I came here to retire, to be quiet, to enjoy the lifestyle here,” he said. “I said that I came to win things, to put the team in a position to compete and win titles. This year, this team is competing. We have already won a title. I didn’t come to MLS to retire. I am proud to have lived up to my promise.”

The Open Cup victory in September was a first piece of silverware under new boss Ben Olsen, who spoke to AS USA recently. Houston faced an in-form Inter Miami in the final and Herrera believes that triumph could be a significant moment for a developing team.

The Open Cup was something we won and for me it was something extraordinary. I had not enjoyed a title like that before, maybe because of the importance I feel in the team or because of how difficult it was to get it,” he explained.

Herrera prepares to face El Tri teammate Vela

This weekend Herrera’s Houston travel to Los Angeles to face the reigning MLS Cup champions. LAFC struggled with consistency at points in the regular season but have shown their class in the playoffs, seeing off Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders.

Steve Cherundolo’s side are looking to become just the fourth team to retain MLS Cup and boast one of MLS’ greatest players, Herrera’s Mexico teammate Carlos Vela. Ahead of Saturday’s game, Herrera paid tribute to Vela’s incredible career.

Will Carlos Vela stay at LAFC?
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Carlos Vela is looking to lead his team to back-to-back MLS Cup triumphs.TIM NWACHUKWUAFP

“For me Carlos Vela, beyond being my friend, is the best player in Mexico because of the quality and career he has. That’s what I think about him, it’s not the first time I’ve said it and I’ve told him. It will be a pleasure to see him again and play against him,” Herrera said.

LAFC host Houston Dynamo on Saturday, 2 December. Kick-off at BMO Stadium is set for 6:30pm (PT) / 9:30pm (ET).

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