Darwin Cerén returns to the Bay Area with something to prove as the Houston Dynamo prepare to take on his former team, the San Jose Earthquakes, on Saturday (9:30 p.m., KUBE 57).

Cerén came to the United States from El Salvador in 2014 with Orlando City SC in the USL and followed them into MLS in 2015, but was traded to San Jose in the middle of 2016. After a year and half in California with the Quakes, the Dynamo made a deal to bring him to the Bayou City on the morning of this year’s SuperDraft.

While the Dynamo were persistent in acquiring the El Salvador international, they were not the only ones angling for his move to Houston. Cerén himself said “it was something [he’d] been thinking about for a while.”

“Playing for Houston is something that had always caught my attention and the opportunity arose,” said Cerén. “It was one of the teams that insisted the most for me to come and when they mentioned that to me, I went to speak to my agent to ask him to talk to Houston because I really wanted to be here.

“I have friends and family here, for me it was like going to a new place without feeling like a stranger. It felt like home.”

Helping him in the transition has been his teammate from the El Salvador national team and a Houston native himself, Arturo Alvarez. Although they are both new to the Dynamo this season, having a familiar face in Alvarez (who is also returning to San Jose, having started his career there in 2003-04 then played there again from 2008-10) provides a level of comfort in a new environment. 

“I think it’s important to have Arturo on the team because he gives you the confidence to walk in the dressing room and share with the rest of the teammates and in the end, that makes you feel motivated to be on the team,” Cerén said of Alvarez. “We’ve known each other for a long time and we have a great friendship.”

Since joining the Dynamo, Cerén has started every game since replacing an injured Juan David Cabezas in the first half of the season opener. He scored a goal in that match, and looks to improve upon his performances as he and his teammates search for three points to put them back on track. Not to prove anyone wrong, but to prove his backers in Houston right.

“Returning now playing with Houston will be something special to me, and I want to do things right,” said Cerén. “I don’t want to prove to San Jose the player that I am but I want to do things for myself, my family and more than anything for Houston, to show that they have a good player. I will do my best effort to be able to get the victory and get the three points.”