What makes a rivalry? Is it players that hate one another? Fans who hate the other city so bad that they will take a longer drive just to avoid the putrid smell of their foes?
"There wasn't anything truer for me than familiarity breeding contempt. That's what it was back in San Jose with LA and in the early days with Dallas" said Eddie Robinson when asked about the Houston-Dallas rivalry "...I think that the players has a lot to do with it. There were a lot of hard-nosed mean bastards who wanted to fight scrap, kill. I think soccer in this country as a whole doesn't have those guys anymore."
Since Houston was moved to the Eastern Conference the two teams seldom met, but with a return to the Western Conference there is a renewed chance at familiarity. In recent years the rivalry with Sporting Kansas City started to replace the rivalry with Dallas in some minds, but they too lack the players you love to hate. The league as a whole lacks the 'bad guy' player that feeds passionate hate toward another team.
"I don't feel like KC [has them] and Dallas did. Carlos Ruiz is one of those people. You look at a guy like Fabian Castillo and the kid is an unbelievable player. Blas Perez, he is cheeky and can be dirty at times. I'm not a big fan of his. There were guys back in the day George Johns, Matt Hedges. There are going to be FC Dallas players that are easier for this Dynamo team to dislike" said Robinson, "That Dallas-Houston rivalry is something for the fans. One thing I will say about the team now is they do feed off the energy of the fans. They do understand how important it is for the people of Houston to beat the people of Dallas and vice versa. The intensity is going to be there."
As for top moments of the rivalry, Robinson says any time they beat Dallas was a top moment -- Dallas team not required. "I really enjoyed going up there and winning MLS Cup in 2007. On their field. That was nice" he said.
"Call me crazy, but I loved when Ricardo kicked the crap out of Carlos Ruiz. That was awesome. I think most of the people around MLS were cheering that. I've never made any bones about my dislike for Carlos Ruiz. I always respected him as a player, he was a very good player but he didn't respect the game, he didn't respect his opponents...I loved playing against him. I loved kicking his ass and pissing him off. But again he was a really good player and a really good goal scorer. That was another one carried over when he left LA and went to Dallas. It helped me and some of my teammates Brian Mullan and Brian Ching and Dwayne [DeRosario] and Pat [Onstad] and those guys that played with them in San Jose. They played against him and now that he was in Dallas that kind of helped initiate that rivalry even more. That was pretty cool."
But Eddie's top moment?
"It happened multiple times, but we would go to Dallas and we would play at Pizza Hut Park or whatever it was called and the Supporters Group for the Dynamo outnumbered the Dallas supporters but hundreds, literally hundreds," Eddie said with pride swelling in his voice. "That was for me one of the top moments. I loved it. I loved it. Looking around and seeing FC Dallas supporters group being drowned out by our drums and our chants and our singing and our orange."
In the end it is going to take time, familiarity and some dirty players to renew this rivalry according to Robinson. The intensity of the fans in the stand bleeds orange onto the field and into the players who know when it comes to Dallas it isn't just about three points it's about winning for the city of Houston.