FC Dallas, Dynamo face each other in heated rivalry
Rivalries don't get much more heated in MLS than the Texas Derby, which will be renewed for the 13th year when the Houston Dynamo hosts FC Dallas on Saturday at BBVA Compass Stadium in downtown Houston.
It's the first match of the season between the league's two Lone Star State teams; they'll meet twice more this year -- once in Frisco and again, late in the campaign back in the Bayou City. Neither side has won a game in the series since 2016.
The 2017 campaign ended in three draws between the two sides, and the year before that, FC Dallas and Houston each earned a win, loss and draw. Since the Dynamo took the goal differential tie-breaker in 2016, they retained El Capitán, mountain howitzer that's the Derby's prize, in 2017's stalemate.
FC Dallas (11-3-5, 38 points) has lost just one match to the Dynamo since the start of 2013, and the Huntsmen understand the significance of earning the bragging rights of being the best team in the state of Texas.
"I've been here awhile, so I know the rivalry a little bit more than some of the guys, some of the new guys, especially," FC Dallas midfielder Victor Ulloa said. "We know they are our archrivals and we want to beat them, so we're motivated to keep this momentum going and hopefully stay up top."
FC Dallas sits atop the Western Conference on the strength of last Saturday's 3-1 home win over Chicago. Carlos Gruezo, Kellyn Acosta and Reto Ziegler scored the goals for FDC, which with the victory became just the second franchise in MLS history to reach 300 wins.
Dallas coach Oscar Pareja understands the importance of the Texas Derby as well. He said he wants his players to feel comfortable in Houston and to understand how big of a game it is for the team.
"A team that we have been successful against, when we went there to Houston and there has been a good battle," Pareja said. "It is important for us to understand that we're going to make our boys and our team feel that they can go there and be the protagonists of the game."
While FC Dallas has been one of the league's consistently good teams this season, the Dynamo have struggled to find the form that helped them reach the conference final last year.
Houston (7-6-5, 26 points) heads into Saturday's match after a scoreless draw in Colorado last Saturday and a rollicking 4-2 home win over Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Romell Quinto and Mauro Manotas each scored twice in the come-from-behind victory.
"Today it was Romell and Mauro," Dynamo coach Wilmer Cabrera said. "They are hungry to score goals and create opportunities. It was good movement off the ball. In space, we were very dangerous. A good game for us versus a good rival and tough opponent.
"We kept our composure. In the second half, we were patient and careful about their counterattack."
After spending time early in his career on the other side of the Houston/Dallas rivalry, Houston native Arturo Alvarez was traded to the Dynamo in the offseason. The veteran midfielder has made 10 appearances for his home club. Despite injuries holding him back in recent games, he hopes to get on the field against his former team on Saturday.
"I think we just have to go with the mentality that we're better than them and then get a 'W,'" Alvarez said. "We know that FC Dallas is having a good year this year and that they are a strong team, and we've been a bit unlucky, but I think we are a great team as well. We've just got to put a few things together and then it'll definitely get us to where we need to be."
The Dynamo currently sit in seventh place in the Western Conference, just two points behind LA Galaxy for the last postseason spot.
Updated July 20, 2018