Houston Dynamo vs. FC Dallas
Friday, June 23, 2017, 8:00 p.m. CT
BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, Texas
Heineken Rivalry Week kicks off with a battle for Texas bragging rights, as FC Dallas visit the Houston Dynamo for the second showdown of the season between these two Western Conference contenders.
It’s a clash of Latino-inflicted sides with much in common. Both are led by savvy Colombian managers. Both thrive on lightning-fast transitions from defense to attack. Both have shopped for players in Central and South America to good effect, and both depend on Homegrown Players in key spots like Kellyn Acosta and Tyler Deric.
Their first meeting was a cagey affair that ended 0-0 at Toyota Stadium on May 28, a result that stands as one of only two points the road-shy Dynamo have earned away from home. With both teams ranking in the top half of the league scoring charts and Houston particularly apt to attack in waves at their downtown venue, more fireworks should be in the offing on this go-round, however.
The rebuilt Dynamo have been a revelation this year, and were just moments away from bagging their first road win of the season on Saturday, only to be stunned by a controversial late goal from LA Galaxy star Romain Alessandrini at StubHub Center in a 2-2 draw.
For a team carrying an 0-6-1 away mark into the occasion, it stands as progress nonetheless and coach Wilmer Cabrera can feel positive as he prepares his charges for this weekend's derby tussle. Striker Alberth Elis has found a strong run of form after a positive international window with Honduras, and competition remains fierce for minutes in the Orange’s loaded attacking corps.
The real linchpin thus far works a bit further back, however. Alex has been an MLS Best XI-caliber contributor for Houston as a rangy, creative box-to-box presence and his efforts will be key against Acosta, playmaker Mauro Diaz and the rest of FCD’s stout midfield.
- Suspended: NONE
- Int’l Duty: NONE
- Injury Report: OUT: D - George Malki (torn ACL), M - Eric Alexander (right knee MCL sprain); PROBABLE - D - DaMarcus Beasley (right thigh injury)
Projected Starting XI (4-3-3; left to right) GK: Tyler Deric – DaMarcus Beasley, Leonardo, Adolfo Machado, AJ DeLaGarza – Alex, Juan David Cabezas, Ricardo Clark – Romell Quioto, Erik "Cubo" Torres, Alberth Elis
Notes: The Dynamo have gone 7-0-1 at home to start the season. Those seven home victories are tied for the most in the league; their average of 3.0 goals per home game is best in MLS…Houston ranks third in MLS with a 14.3-percent shot conversion rate.
Entering the season as popular picks to build on last season's U.S. Open Cup-Supporters' Shield double, FCD opened the season on a nine-game undefeated run. But the trailing draw on that stretch opened a seven-game span that includes but a single victory, and they've gradually settled into the Western Conference pack.
Yet, the future looks perhaps brighter than even Dallas expected – what with Mauro Diaz's early return from his torn Achilles' tendon, and the potential he shows to unlock their attack. A formation shift and stronger service could further Maxi Urruti's ongoing breakout, which has included volume and clutch scoring for FCD.
Not to mention the ongoing development of Kellyn Acosta has him tabbed for what could prove a star-making international role in the Gold Cup – potentially alongside teammate Matt Hedges, who earned the call-up from Bruce Arena following last season's Defender of the Year campaign. Goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez could well be joining them. Maybe.
- Suspended: NONE
- Int’l Duty: NONE
- Injury Report: OUT: D - Walker Zimmerman (left knee MCL strain)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1; left-to-right) GK: Jesse Gonzalez - Atiba Harris, Matt Hedges, Maynor Figueroa, Hernan Grana - Kellyn Acosta, Carlos Gruezo - Roland Lamah, Mauro Diaz, Michael Barrios - Maxi Urruti
Notes: Urruti has nine goals in his last 15 MLS regular season appearances. Prior to that run, he had five goals in his previous 24 regular season MLS games.
- All-time: Dallas 9 wins (40 goals)…Houston 10 wins (40 goals)…Ties 9
- At Houston: Dynamo 7 wins, 25 goals…FC Dallas 4 wins, 23 goals…Ties 3
Houston and Dallas have carried out the Texas Derby showdown ever since the first incarnation of the San Jose Earthquakes moved to the Bayou City and became the Dynamo after the 2005 season. The winner of the season series gets possession of “El Capitan,” a Civil War-era Howitzer found by FC Dallas in Missouri and made into the trophy for this Lone Star State clash.
Houston are the reigning holders, having edged out their northern neighbors in 2016 despite a woeful overall campaign, in contrast to FCD’s Supporters’ Shield-winning season.
Referee: Kevin Stott
Assistant Referees: Brian Dunn, Craig Lowry
Fourth Official: Daniel Radford