Saturday's match is the first of three big games between in-state rivals the Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas to be played this season. This series has gone any way but Houston's in recent history. FC Dallas has won the last five game between these two team. The Dynamo had dominated the early part of the Texas Derby's history, but have struggled since 2013. This match-up has lost some of the bite between players over the years, but the passion of the fans has never wavered. With a number of new players on the roster this will be the first chance to see how they react to the rivalry.
Can Houston turn things around and get El Capitan back where it belongs? Injuries may dictate the outcome of this first match-up. Dallas may be without Fabian Castillo while Houston started the season with a rather long injury report.
While playing against the Philadelphia Union FC Dallas scoring machine Fabian Castillo was taken off the field on a stretcher in the final seconds of the teams 2-0 victory on Sunday. Head coach Oscar Pareja spoke about the injury after the match and said that they may be without Castillo for two weeks. However, Castillo told Jon Arnold that his goal is to get fit for Saturday's match. Shutting down Castillo has been a huge problem for the Dynamo in the past. Last year he scored two goals and three assists against the Dynamo last season. His absence could be a huge benefit for the Dynamo.
For the Dynamo, it sounds like they might be getting one player back, but losing another. Corey Roepken posted on Twitter that the team will likely have Sheanon Williams available on Saturday, but that Owen Coyle is "hopeful" that DaMarcus Beasley will be able to play on Saturday. Gaining a right back while losing their left back may not be great for the defense, but the biggest loss for the Dynamo may come at the goal keeping position. Tyler Deric was listed as doubtful last week due to an abdominal strain and Roepken's March 8 tweets did not sound hopeful for the goal keeper's return.
#Dynamo injury updates: Expect Tyler Deric to miss at least one more game. Owen Coyle is "hopeful" DaMarcus Beasley can play Saturday.— Corey Roepken (@RipSports) March 8, 2016
More #Dynamo: Sheanon Williams (hamstring) trained with team for first time today. Likely will be available Saturday. Maybe not all 90.— Corey Roepken (@RipSports) March 8, 2016
On the good news front for the Dynamo, Owen Coyle's suspension was rescinded by the MLS Disciplinary Committee this week and the head coach will be able to coach this match. Coyle got in trouble the first game of the season for "irresponsible behavior" during stoppage time of the team's 3-3 draw against the New England Revolution.
Even without Castillo beating Dallas will be a tough test for the Dynamo. Dallas has a talented roster with a number of fast attackers capable of ripping apart the Dynamo. If Castillo is out it is possible that Dallas moves Michael Barrios over to Castillo's position and puts in Tesho Akindele. Dallas' Mauro Diaz has already shown that he can score against the Dynamo and will be hungry to add to the two goals he has scored against Houston. While Maxi Urruti signed with Dallas in the off season he was already dangerous in his first out with the team against the Union. However, Dallas' defense showed venerability last week with Walker Zimmerman and Atiba Harris.
Houston rolled out a strong attacked style on the ball last week and have the ability to exploit Dallas' defense. Cristian Maidana and Andrew Wenger were two off season acquisitions that already paid off in game one of the season. Houston's bench had been set up to make attacking substitutions, but injuries derailed that plan and contributed to the late goal that caused Houston to walk away with a draw instead of a win in week one.
The Dynamo are going to need their defense to be better organized if they want to win against Dallas. Last week they struggled against New England who don't have the dangerous speed that Dallas does. With Joe Willis expected to start in place of Tyler Deric, the defense and the midfield need to do more to keep Willis from having to make saves.
The wild card in all of this is the rivalry game factor. Any thing can happen when these two play each other.