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Texas Derby: Q&A with Brian Wachholz of Big D Soccer

This week is the Texas Derby, which sees the two Major League Soccer clubs in Texas, FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo, square off in what is sure to be a physical and intense affair. Ahead of the match, I had the opportunity to sit down with Brian Wachholz of Big D Soccer to try and get some answers about what the Dynamo are up against.

Defensive Midfielder, Ricardo Clark, will be key to slowing down Mauro Rios and FC Dallas in this year's Texas Derby in BBVA Compass Stadium
Defensive Midfielder, Ricardo Clark, will be key to slowing down Mauro Rios and FC Dallas in this year's Texas Derby in BBVA Compass Stadium
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dynamo Theory: FC Dallas are once again riding a hot streak into the match against the Dynamo early in the season. What has keyed the FCD success?

Brian Wachholz: FC Dallas is finally having all the right pieces click into place at the same time. Unlike last season, FCD is already demonstrating that they have the depth to overcome injury and suspension to the best XI. The team became stagnant under Schellas Hyndman although he took FCD to the 2010 MLS Cup Final; it became obvious as the slump progressed that a new coach was needed to turn things around. Oscar Pareja has come in and immediately shifted morale by playing to his system and making the players accountable. He's waived those that don't fit into the plan. He's loaning out the young guys who aren't ready for MLS in 2014. Those left on the roster are all expected to contribute when called upon. This is vastly different compared to years past, where it felt like roster slots 20-30 were just sitting in limbo.

Bottom line: OP is using the full roster, and those players are performing.

DT: BBVA Compass Stadium has proven to be one of the best, if not the best, home field advantages in Major League Soccer. What does FCD have to do to negate that advantage?

BW: FC Dallas needs to use their speed to keep passing lanes open and the ball flowing. The game could easily reduce down to a midfield knife fight if the ball doesn't keep moving back and forth. FCD needs to prevent silly turnovers in dangerous places and spark a Houston counter-attack. This is very achievable, but you never know what may happen on gameday. Brad Davis is always a threat to FC Dallas. The boys can't give up unnecessary set piece opportunities. Overall, it's going to take some real discipline in the midfield and attacking third for FCD to be successful.

DT: JeVaughn Watson is out for the match in Houston due to a red card he received in FC Dallas' last match against San Jose Earthquakes. How does FC Dallas' game plan change without Watson?

BW: We found out late in the week that JeVaughn's red card has been rescinded which is great news for FCD. Watson was inconsistent last season with Dallas, but he was asked to play all over the field, constantly filling in for someone else or late game sub. Under Pareja's leadership, Watson has been deployed on the flank, and he seems to be excelling at that job so far. His speed and size make him a threat anytime he rushes forward on or off the ball. For FCD fans, JeVaughn is a welcome upgrade from Jackson on the wing. The two have differing styles, but Watson's even temper and size compared to the Brazilian have nicely balanced out what Castillo does on the other side of the pitch. I expect we'll see Watson on Saturday and he'll continue to be an important cog in Dallas' offensive machine.

DT: Ex-Houston Dynamo Adam Moffat has landed with FC Dallas. He was a fan favorite for his 35 yard Adam Bombs. How is he fitting in with FC Dallas?

BW: I can't say that I've seen enough to make a determination yet. Dallas fans are excited to have someone of his caliber on the team, and we're well aware of what the losing side of the Adam Bomb looks like. He's barely played 90 minutes for the North Texans, but in that time he looked solid. I think long term, Moffat is going to become an ironman in the middle of the field alongside Hendry Thomas. I read that the move from Houston to Seattle and then quickly on to Dallas came as a bit of a surprise to him. He seems the type of player who is looking to set down roots, so I hope that he can provide some red Adam Bombs for many years to come.

DT: Last but not least, what do the Dynamo need to do to contain Mauro Diaz?

BW: Handcuffs? Maybe some sort of rocket powered net cannon? Mauro Diaz has been a breath of fresh air since David Ferreira started fading, struggling to return to top form after a broken ankle. Mauro has the youth, the speed, the vision, and the toughness to withstand MLS. At least so far. Lucky for FCD, he slowly acclimated to MLS by signing mid-season last year. This gave him the cushion to prepare to fly out of the gates this spring. Dallas is riding with the confidence right now that stopping Diaz won't stop the team. Short of a herd of chihuahuas to chomp at his ankles, I think your best bet to stop Diaz is to stick one or two defenders on him all game, 1v1. Maintain absolute high pressure on him. Mauro is going to make opponents pay for every yard of space they grant him.

For Brian's questions for me and more, head over to our friendly rivals Big D Soccer, but please remember you represent the Orange.