Photo by Nigel Brooks

Dynamo eager to retain "meaningful" El Capitán trophy

It's all for the glory of El Capitán.

The 19th-century Civil War replica cannon is up for grabs as the Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas meet in the seventh annual Texas derby on Saturday at BBVA Compass Stadium (7:30 pm ET, ESPN2, live chat on MLSsoccer.com). By the looks of it, the historic piece of artillery has a way of bringing out some emotion.

ESPN Preview: Houston host Dallas for El Capitán

Dallas released a music video expressing their desire to bring the trophy back to Frisco. For the Dynamo, the current holders of the prize after taking the derby 3-2 on aggregate in 2011, it is safe to say there will be no song and dance. But that doesn't mean the piece of artillery doesn't tempt some players' fancy.

“They don’t let us play with the cannon” joked goalkeeper Tally Hall. “I’ve written a formal request to play with it on my own free time, but I guess they didn’t get it. It’s a big deal. It’s something the fans are proud of, they sing songs about it and it makes it a big deal for us.”

The Dynamo organization already has stationed the prize for this week’s home match in the tunnel at BBVA Compass Stadium, where it has been present for all three home games since the new venue opened last month.

As the players pass by the trophy, they are reminded of what it means, not only on the field but in the stands. According to the Dynamo players, the trophy is a representation of, not only the rivalry between the clubs, but the fans that fuel the rivalry in the stands.

“The fans get into [it] and that’s what get[s] us into it,” said Andre Hainault, who is back from helping Canada win and draw in their first two World Cup qualifiers. “It creates a buzz and makes it a bigger game for us and helps make it a special one for us.”

Due to the switch to the unbalanced schedule, which means that inter-conference matches only take place once a year, this will be the only leg of the derby in 2012, making it winner-take-all. This is the only opportunity to show who is the best MLS club in Texas and who gets bragging rights along with a unique piece of hardware for the next year.

“It would be if I could take it home and shoot it,” Brad Davis said when asked about the importance of keeping the derby’s spoils. “I wish they could shoot it off – that was really cool when they did that the first time. This is one for us, and more important for the fans it’s one they really rally behind and is great for both cities being so close.”

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.