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Wilf Thorne/Houston Dynamo

No stranger to the Texas Derby, Arturo Alvarez now gets to suit up for his hometown team

After spending time early in his career on the other side of the Houston/Dallas rivalry, Houston native Arturo Alvarez is happy to be on the right side of things as the Dynamo take on FC Dallas this Saturday night (8 p.m. CT, TICKETS).

“This is my city. This is my hometown. I definitely want to represent well and I hope we beat them,” said Alvarez, who played for Dallas from 2006-08 during the early days of the Texas Derby.  

Though it’s been 10 years since Alvarez has played in the rivalry between the cross-state adversaries, he did leave a mark on the conflict when he received a red card, his first ever, in the 2007 Western Conference semifinal for kneeing former Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis between the legs. Dallas was leading the playoff series by two goals, but Houston scored twice in regulation while up a man to tie things up, then scored twice more in extra time to continue their path to a second MLS Cup.

It’s one of those moments ingrained in the rivalry and one that still stands out for Alvarez.

“It was a stupid foul. It was a heated match and sometimes you do things that maybe you are not used to doing,” he said. “He happened to step on me and I reacted and I’m the one that got caught.”

The 33-year-old was nearly part of the original Dynamo squad himself, having played for the San Jose Earthquakes in 2003-04. He was traded to Dallas in exchange for Davis and a draft pick in 2005, a year before the team moved to Houston. He wound up playing in the first-ever Texas Derby in 2006, coming on as a late sub at Robertson Stadium in a 4-3 Dynamo win, and scored goals against the Dynamo in September 2006 and April 2008.

 “It was intense. It was heated. It was always a battle,” Alvarez said of the early meetings. “It wasn’t going to be pretty soccer. It was going to be more like a fight.”

The Dynamo traded this past offseason to bring Alvarez home, and the veteran midfielder has made 10 appearances for his home club. Despite injuries holding him back in recent games, he hopes to get on the field against his former team on Saturday.

 “I want to play against them. I know that whenever you’re playing you’re looking for those types of games where there’s a huge rivalry, and especially the FC Dallas-Houston match,” Alvarez said.

But getting the win against his former club is the most important thing for Alvarez and the Dynamo come Saturday as the the team looks to position themselves among playoff teams in the Western Confeerence standings.

“I think we just have to go with the mentality that we’re better than them and then get a ‘W,’” he said.

 “We know that FC Dallas is having a good year this year and that they are a strong team, and we’ve been a bit unlucky, but I think we are a great team as well. We’ve just got to put a few things together and then it’ll definitely get us to where we need to be.”