Houston Dynamo at FC Dallas
Sunday, May 28, 2017, 7:00 p.m. CT
Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas
FS1 - 7:00 p.m. (CHANNEL LISTINGS)
610 AM/Radio.com app - 6:30 p.m.
Univision Radio 1010 AM - 6:30 p.m.
It's Texas Derby time, and that generally means goals – and lots of them. This rivalry has averaged more than 3.0 goals per game for the past two seasons, with a pair of five-tally outbursts to keep things interesting.
A new-look Houston Dynamo arrive in Frisco with more firepower than they've boasted in years, and they'll need it against an organized FC Dallas defense that boasts both veteran know-how and the springy legs that come with youth. First place in the Western Conference could be in the balance should Sporting KC stumble this weekend.
The favorite is obvious: Oscar Pareja has turned his North Texas outpost into an MLS powerhouse while Houston have yet to win (or draw) on the road this season, but if this rivalry has taught us anything – think the Dynamo's 5-0 win in 2016 – it's that anything can happen when these two teams hit the field.
Only Toronto FC and the Chicago Fire are averaging more points per game than FC Dallas (1.73). That's quite the accomplishment given the Texans embarked on a CCL run and haven't had magic maker Mauro Diaz all year.
Those are just the expectations these days in Frisco, where Pareja has built a team that can compete on multiple fronts even when its form hits a lull or injury robs it of arguably the league's best No. 10. Still, Dallas know hegemony starts in their own state, where the Dynamo are starting to show signs that their three-year playoff drought could be about to end.
The timing is tough given they went to Chicago on Thursday and lost 2-1, but FC Dallas should be up for the challenge after Pareja rotated the squad against the Fire. Should they finish their week with a win, the series will be all tied up with 10 wins apiece.
- Suspensions: None
- International Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT: M – Mauro Diaz (torn Achilles tendon), M – Paxton Pomykal (knee surgery)
Projected Starting XI (4-4-2): Jesse Gonzalez – Hernan Grana, Walker Zimmerman, Matt Hedges, Maynor Figueroa – Michael Barrios, Carlos Gruezo, Kellyn Acosta, Roland Lamah – Tesho Akindele, Maxi Urruti
Notes: San Jose’s 1-0 victory away to FC Dallas last weekend snapped a 15-game unbeaten run (7W-8D) including seven-game home unbeaten streak (5W-2D). They had scored in all seven games on their unbeaten run. ... FC Dallas are facing an average of 3.0 shots on target per game this year, the lowest in the league. Houston are taking an average of 5.3 shots on target per game, the second-most in the league.
Make no mistake, there's plenty of respect for FC Dallas on the other side of the rivalry.
Defender A.J. DeLaGarza knows something about being the best team in MLS from his days with the Galaxy, and he wasn't shy about lavishing praise on Pareja's project up the road from Houston.
"They're the best team in the league the last couple years," DeLaGarza told the Houston Chronicle. "I know that and everyone around here knows that. But we have a team that we think can beat them. I am excited about this match and I expect a good one."
Houston will catch Dallas on just a few days rest following a Thursday night match in Chicago, a 2-1 Fire win. That's a fortunate scheduling quirk for Wilmer Cabrera, as his team has yet to win on the road this season, riding red-hot home form to second place in the West.
Fueling that run is an attack that features a four-headed monster in Cubo Torres, Mauro Manotas, Romell Quioto and Alberth Elis, who could return to the gameday roster this week as he returns from a muscle injury.
- Suspensions: None
- International Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT – D George Malki (torn ACL), M Eric Alexander (right knee MCL sprain); PROBABLE – F Alberth Elis (hamstring injury)
Projected Starting XI (4-3-3): GK: Joe Willis — A.J. DeLaGarza, Adolfo Machado, Leonardo, DaMarcus Beasley — Juan David Cabezas, Ricardo Clark, Alex — Mauro Manotas, Erick "Cubo" Torres, Romell Quioto
Notes: Houston has only two wins in their last 30 league road games (20L-8D) dating back to July 18, 2015. This includes losses in their last five road games where they have been outscored 14-3. ... Houston (9.9) and FC Dallas (9.6) are two of three MLS teams to average less than 10 fouls won per game (Colorado also averages 9.9 fouls won per game).
- Overall: Dallas 9 wins (40 goals) … Houston 10 wins (40 goals) … Ties 8
- At Dallas: Dallas 5 wins (17 goals) … Houston 3 wins (15 goals) … Ties 5
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Assistant Referees: Matthew Nelson, Brian Poeschel
4th Official: Caleb Mendez