THREE POINTS: Houston Dynamo FC opens the regular season Sunday at PNC Stadium

Houston Dynamo F.C kick off their 17th season in Major League Soccer on Sunday when they welcome Pablo Mastroeni and Real Salt Lake to PNC Stadium at 18:00 CT.

Tickets for all of Dynamo’s 2022 home games are available at HoustonDynamoFC.com/Tickets, with ticket prices for all games starting between $7 and $20. The first 5,000 fans through the gates of PNC Stadium on Sunday will receive a free Dynamo Diesel Bobblehead courtesy of PNC Bank.

The opening day marks the debut of head coach Paulo Nagamura, who joined Dynamo on January 3 as the club’s fifth head coach. The 38-year-old is the youngest head coach in the club’s history, joining Dynamo after five years as a coach with the Sporting Kansas City organization. Dynamo ended the preseason with a 3-2-1 record under Nagamura with victories over Toronto FC, the Colorado Rapids and Phoenix Rising of the USL Championship.

Dynamo forward Sebastian Ferreira was key to two of Nagamura’s preseason triumphs, scoring the opener in Houston’s 2-1 win over Toronto FC. Ferreira also scored in Houston’s 3-2 win over the Rapids at the Desert Showcase in Tucson, Arizona earlier this month. The 24-year-old signed as a designated player in a full transfer from Paraguay’s club Libertad Asunción in January. The forward is the club’s most expensive signing and the first designated player to be signed by Dynamo general manager Pat Onstad.

Ferreira is one of five new players joining Dynamo in 2022. The latest player to join Dynamo is Brazilian Olympic champion Zeca. The full-back is the third signing at the defensive end of the field, following the trade from LA Galaxy of centre-back Daniel Steres and the signing of goalkeeper Steve Clark as a free agent in December. Houston added more depth to the frontline by signing adidas Generation forward Thor Úlfarsson.

Real Salt Lake ended the preseason in a friendly with a 3-0 loss to Oregon’s Portland Timbers. Salt Lake also drew 0-0 with Minnesota United and lost 4-1 to Viking FK of Norway. Dynamo and Salt Lake played a 1-1 draw at Desert Showcase on February 3rd. Dynamo forward Fafa Picault scored for Dynamo, who have a 10-3-3 record against Salt Lake at home on Sunday.

Real Salt Lake is managed by head coach Pablo Mastroeni, who was Dynamo’s assistant under Tab Ramos in 2020. Mastroeni joined Salt Lake as an assistant coach for the 2021 season, serving as interim head coach after Freddy Juarez left the club in August. Mastroeni led the team to a post-season berth after a crucial last-minute goal from Damir Kreilach. Salt Lake eventually reached the Western Conference Finals by beating Seattle Sounders FC on penalties and Sporting Kansas City on the road. The playoff run ended on December 4 in Oregon against the Portland Timbers.

Dynamo ended last season with a record 0-1-2 draw against Salt Lake, including a 0-0 singles draw at PNC Stadium on July 31. Houston has gone into the game without a win against Real Salt Lake in their last eight games. Houston’s last win against the Utah club came on May 31, 2017 in a 5-1 home win.

The Dynamo will embark on their first road trip of the regular season next week. Houston will travel to Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday, March 5 at 2:30pm CT for a match against Sporting Kansas City. The Dynamo return to PNC Stadium on Saturday, March 12 to host the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Here are three key points ahead of Sunday’s home game:

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