There is one game that every Houston Dynamo fan circles on their calendar when the schedule is released, and that is none other than the game against our in-state rivals FC Dallas. While the two teams have only met in the post-season once, and that was in 2007, a first round playoff match-up that started a post-season that led to Houston’s second championship. That does not mean the rivalry is not of high importance. The Texas Derby is a game for state pride, and almost guaranteed sellouts in both cities.
The Houston Dynamo have gotten the best of FC Dallas during the history of their rivalry, having a 9-7-4 record against FC Dallas. FC Dallas beat the Houston Dynamo in their single meeting of the regular season last year. This means that Houston will want to regain their hierarchy in this early season match-up. This however will be no easy task.
FC Dallas (3-0-1) 10 points, 1st Overall
FC Dallas are currently top of the league and are on a four game undefeated streak coming off a win against Portland Timbers. Their attacking midfielder Mauro Diaz was just voted Major League Soccer’s Player of the Month for scoring 2 goals and adding an assist in FC Dallas’ first four games. They have really proven themselves to be the team to beat in the beginning of the season. They even earned a road point by drawing against current MLS Champions Sporting Kansas City on a stoppage time goal by defender Matt Hedges. The other three of their wins have come at home and their defense has allowed 5 goals in 4 games. These goals came from three teams that are struggling in the season with only Sporting being the lone contender they have gotten points from.
FC Dallas has however shown that their attacking third is one of the most dangerous ones in the league. Their attacking players Blas Perez, Mauro Diaz, and Fabian Castillo have combined for six goals with each one scoring two goals apiece. While their defense has not been the most stable their attackers have more than made up for it. Coach Oscar Pareja was struck with some luck when a key piece of his midfield, Je-Vaughn Watson had his suspension rescinded.
Houston Dynamo (2-1-0) 6 points, 3rd East, 6th Overall
Houston Dynamo are coming off of their first loss. The loss came against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Their loss was largely caused by some momentary defensive lapses. In the first goal the Dynamo were caught flat-footed during a miscommunication between Taylor and Tally Hall. Before this game, the defense had allowed no goals and David Horst had two marvelous games, becoming probably the player of the two previous matches.
The Dynamo’s biggest question is whether Will Bruin, after having a quiet game, can regain the surprisingly fine form that he showed the first two games. Houston’s biggest asset is their midfield led by Boniek Garcia. Andrew Driver has proven that he is not capable of being a starter and really works best coming off the bench. Cascio is expected to return to the line-up after coming off an injury, so Driver can go back to his usual spot of coming off the bench. The biggest question is still where goals where come from for this upcoming game and the rest of the season.
Houston: Eric Brunner (Right ankle sprain)
FC Dallas comes into the game as the favorite being undefeated for the first part of the season. They also have three of the best forwards in this early part of the season. However, their defense has shown kinks that can be exploited and they depend on their attack to just perform so well that their defensive lapses are a non-issue. They also come into the game missing a key piece of their midfield due to suspension.
The Houston Dynamo are the complete opposite, they depend more on their defense than their attack. The biggest question Houston has is where goals will come from, but their defense has performed so well that just a couple of goals can lead them to victory. This will be a hard fought game that will answer the question what is more important, a defense or offensive. FC Dallas will try to score an early goal, and if Houston can make it through those early attacks, their home field advantage will come into play. BBVA Compass Stadium is known league-wide as one of the most difficult places to get a result from. The key to victory for Houston will be whether forwards can score. In the end, Houston’s defense and midfield will be too much for Dallas to handle.
Dallas: GK- GK- Seitz; Def- Acosta, Keel, Hedges, Benetiz; Mid- Ulloa, Michel, Watson, Diaz, Castillo; Fwd- Perez
Houston: GK- Hall; Def- Ashe, Taylor, Horst, Sarkodie; Mid- Davis. Clark, Garcia, Cascio; Fwd- Barnes, Bruin