HOUSTON – Once upon a time, the rivalry between the Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas – the Texas Derby – was a heated battle. Unfortunately, roster changes and the schedule makers have conspired against them.
The budding rivalry was once spurred by a healthy contempt between feisty players like Eddie Robinson and Brian Mullan for Houston and Carlos Ruiz and Darío Sala for Dallas, all of whom fed off the frequent battles the clubs waged.
#RivalryWeek: FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo, Sunday, 1 pm ET, ESPN2 | GET TICKETS
But in 2011, Houston moved to the Eastern Conference and the battle for "El Capitan" went from a multi-leg war to a solitary game each season. For some, the lack of multiple matches in a season has taken some of the venom out of the rivalry.
“When we were in the same conference, not only were we playing each other four times a season, it was another two in the playoffs, and then in preseason,” said former Dynamo center back Eddie Robinson. "We played eight times in one year. The phrase ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ was never truer."
Dallas and Houston have locked horns just three times in the past two years, only once during a playoff stretch.
But maybe playing once a year only heightens the passion. After all, the rivalry remains very much afloat for the fans, whom Ching and Brad Davis point to as fuel for them to do well when they travel to Dallas on Sunday.
"It’s a shame we don’t get to play [Dallas] more often,” said Ching. “Playing once a year, it’s tough to keep a rivalry going. We’ve had good games with them in the past. We look forward to going up there and trying to get points.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.