FC Dallas leads the Western Conference but a match against a team currently on the outside of the playoff mix has all of the club’s attention.
That’s because FC Dallas visits the Houston Dynamo on Saturday in the first meeting of the Texas Derby, the title attached to the annual season series between the clubs. All three of last season’s matches ended in ties, which meant the Dynamo retained its derby title from the previous campaign.
Houston has won seven of the 12 derbies. The series winner possesses El Capitan, a replica Civil War-era howitzer cannon.
The Dynamo (7-6-5, 26 points) are two points behind the sixth-place Los Angeles Galaxy for the final playoff spot in the West. They see the clash with FC Dallas as the type of match that could springboard them to a second-half run.
“It’s a game where they’re simply ahead of us in the standings, and it’s a chance for us to test ourselves against the team that’s in first place in the West right now,” Houston goalkeeper Chris Seitz, who spent the past seven seasons with FC Dallas, told reporters. “For us, we need these games, we need to win these games, and it’s at home and we’ll go out there attacking and we’ll go out there putting our best foot forward.”
Houston will be facing an arduous task with FC Dallas in the midst of a strong stretch in which they are 8-2-1 over their past 11 matches. FC Dallas (11-3-5, 38 points) hold a three-point lead over Los Angeles FC in the West.
Midfielder Victor Ulloa is looking forward to seeing his team continue the stellar play in the matchup with the Dynamo.
“This weekend is the derby,” Ulloa told reporters. “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.”
Midfielder Roland Lamah (seven goals, four assists) and forward Maximiliano Urruti (six goals) have combined for nearly half of FC Dallas’ 31 goals. Midfielder Mauro Diaz has been a strong playmaker with a team-high eight assists to go along with two goals.
Houston has scored 36 goals with midfielder/forward Alberth Elis and forward Mauro Manotas accounting for half of them with nine goals apiece. Elis has contributed seven assists, while midfielder Romell Quioto (three goals) is tied for second in MLS with 10 assists.
Four of the past five meetings in the series have ended in draws. FC Dallas (Aug. 27, 2016) was the last team to post a victory.
—Field Level Media