Houston acquires Honduran international Luis Garrido on loan from Olimpia

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The alternate title to this post would be “Dynamo welcome not-Espinoza,” because after team president Chris Canetti announced his team would be acquiring another central midfielder, many hoped Roger Espinoza would be returning to Major League Soccer. After today’s announcement, that thinking proved wishful, with Houston’s acquisition challenging fans to learn a new Honduran import. Having come to a loan agreement with C.D. Olimpia, the Dynamo are bringing World Cup veteran Luis Garrido north.

Garrido, 23, made two appearances for the Catrachos at Brazil 2014, moving into Luis Fernando Suárez’s lineup after Wilson Palacios drew a red card in game one. His second start of the tournament marked his 22nd appearance for Honduras after making his international debut two years ago.

During that time, the defensive midfielder enjoyed a loan spell with Red Star Belgrade, where he helped the former European Champions to second in the Serbian SuperLiga. After returning to Honduras last summer, Garrido resumed his place in Olimpia’s midfield, helping the Lions hold fellow Honduran titans Marathón scoreless over two legs of May’s final.

“He has a good amount of bite in the middle of the field, good energy and is a good passer of the ball,” Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear said, via the club’s website. “We have watched him for a few years in the CONCACAF Champions League and World Cup qualifiers, and he showed well in the World Cup. We think he is a player that will fit in with the way we play and it a good opportunity to bring him here.”

The move reunites Garrido with Olimpia alumni Boniek Garcia and Alexander Lopez, but with former U.S. international Ricardo Clark established in central midfield, Garrido’s fit could prove precarious. Though Clark had great success playing above Adam Moffat when he rejoined Houston two years ago, his former partner’s departure led to more time in his accustomed holding role. Though Kinnear has always been high on Clark’s ability to contribute going forward, this move may force those hopes to come to fruition.

Given how Houston’s defense has performed this season, it’s a sacrifice the coach may need to make. Though the David Horst-Jermaine Taylor pairing in central defense showed promise in March, the duo’s been unable to prevent the Dynamo from conceding a league-worst 40 goals. With injuries (to themselves as well as Clark) also hindering the team, Houston may be moving to two defensive options in the midfield.

Of course, this all assumes Garrido actually plays. His World Cup experience, as well as Kinnear’s recommendation, hints he should, but only 23 years old, Garrido may need time to adjust to Major League Soccer.

He also may have to battle for time in a talented midfield. As Canetti said in today’s announcement, the team sees itself as loaded in the middle.

“We think Luis will be an important player for us,” Canetti explained. “With Brad (Davis), Boniek (García), DaMarcus (Beasley), Rico (Clark) and Luis we now have five players with World Cup experience in the midfield.”

Perhaps that means one player will end up on the bench. Or maybe Beasley will slot in at left back. Could we see the return of the 4-3-3 formation Kinnear tried two years ago? Or maybe Brad Davis could end up playing behind a striker in a 4-2-3-1?

Over the last two days, Houston’s acquired more options. Now Kinnear has the flexibility to change things up. With Houston ninth in the East, new players need to provide new solutions.

AT THE HALF: Manchester derby scoreless after 45 minutes

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After 45 minutes, the final Manchester derby of the 2016-17 Premier League season — the one that’ll go a long, long way toward deciding which of the city’s sides will finish in the top-four — is scoreless, but not without incident.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

The game’s best chances thus far fell Manchester City’s way, as Sergio Aguero missed a clear-cut chance after 10 minutes — Kevin De Bruyne whipped in the perfect ball to the back post, and Aguero put it wrong side of David De Gea‘s post.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Ander Herrera has, once again, be Manchester United’s danger man, combining well with Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but Claudio Bravo made the one save he was forced into during the first half. One thing to keep an eye on during the final 45 minutes: Rashford picked up a knock very early on, and struggled to move around the field after that.

STREAM LIVE: The Manchester Derby

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The third Manchester Derby of the season is the first away from Old Trafford, as Manchester United visits Manchester City (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.

There’s much on the line, as the sides sit just two points apart in the race for the Top Four. Man City would leapfrog third-place Liverpool with a win, while United could join the Reds on 66 points with a match-in-hand.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Sergio Aguero starts for Man City, with Gabriel Jesus on the bench.

On the other side, it’ll be a physical middle-third guarded by Ander Herrera, Michael Carrick, and Marouane Fellaini. Wayne Rooney and Jesse Lingard start on the bench.

LINEUPS

Manchester City: Bravo, Zabaleta, Kompany (C), Otamendi, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Sterling, De Bruyne, Sane, Aguero. Subs: Caballero, Sagna, Fernando, Navas, Clichy, Gabriel Jesus, A. Garcia

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Darmian; Herrera, Carrick, Fellaini, Mkhitaryan; Rashford, Martial. Subs: Romero, Shaw, Fosu-Mensah, Tuanzebe, Young, Lingard, Rooney.

Ex-Liverpool CEO shares biting story of Suarez transfer

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Ian Ayre’s got jokes.

The former Liverpool CEO lifted the lid on some transfer stories during a Merseyside lecture this week.

Of note, Ayre admitted that the club thought Dele Alli demanded too much given what he had produced when the Reds has the chance to sign him as a 16-year-old, and said that Liverpool could’ve landed Alexis Sanchez but the player wanted to live in London (“We couldn’t move the football club to London, unfortunately,” he quipped).

The best part relayed by Sky Sports had to do with Luis Suarez, and shows the relentless nature of the transfer market. Clearly Barcelona had interest in Suarez before the fiery striker bit Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup, because, well…

“I remember the sporting director of Barcelona calling me during that game, immediately as Suarez bit the player, and he said to me ‘my friend, he’s bitten somebody, how can this be the price?’ I said ‘he’d already bitten somebody when you first bid!'”

We’re sure there’s a certain amount of storytelling in there, but undoubtedly some truth.

Given Barca paid a reported $84 million for the striker, the asking price couldn’t have started that much higher.

Men in Blazers podcast: Chelsea tops Spurs, Top Four predictions

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Rog and Davo return to discuss Chelsea’s FA Cup semifinal victory over Spurs, update their Top Four predictions (again), and dive into the depths of the relegation zone. Plus, the very important movement to change “Hudson Street” to “Ray Hudson Street.”

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