The Houston Dynamo hope to take the first win of the Texas Derby against FC Dallas and get their first positive result on the road. Last week the Dynamo lost out in a double game week when they traveled to face the Philadelphia Union and when they made their way south to play Atlanta United FC. Losing a 6th game in a row on the road, especially to a rival, would not be a good look for a team with playoff aspirations.
In our preview of the match we discussed some of the history behind the Texas Derby including players’ takes on it, but we wanted to know more about our
North Texas South Oklahoman neighbors so we spoke with Drew Epperley at Big D Soccer to gain some insight on our cannon-less opponents.
Dynamo Theory: The last few years FC Dallas have set the bar pretty high in terms of how to build a successful club which has helped see them get their first Supporter’s Shield last season. Unfortunately for FCD, they lost in the Conference Semifinals to the would-be MLS Cup winners, Seattle Sounders. How are they poised to improve on what was already a very successful 2016 campaign?
Big D Soccer: Going into 2017 the talk has been pretty much MLS Cup or bust. If the last couple of years under Oscar Pareja have taught us anything is that this group has been building to that point. Two straight 60 point seasons, a pair of trophies last year and nearly a trip to the CONCACAF Champions League finals this year shows that they're well on their way to doing great things. The additions this group made going into this year have had their ups and downs so far but the depth of this team is really strong and they have found ways to pick up points both at home and away (which is never easy to do in this league).
DT: The injury to Mauro Diaz is a devastating one for the club, but Oscar Pareja has managed to keep things relatively stable. How has he been able to fill the void left by Diaz so successfully?
BDS: Replacing Mauro Diaz is never an easy thing but this group has really made the most of what they had without him. Guys like Kellyn Acosta and Maxi Urruti have really stepped up this season to help carry the attacking load and some of the newer faces like Cristian Colman and Roland Lamah are finally starting to get comfortable against MLS defenses. Then there is the addition of Javier Morales, who by all accounts, has done a pretty solid job of being the stop-gap for the club in the midfield while Diaz recovers this spring.
DT: Starting off the year undefeated, Dallas has now tasted defeat twice in a row including a midweek matchup with the Chicago Fire. What’s happened that turned things around for them and how are they prepared to enter a game against Houston with less rest?
BDS: Last week's result against San Jose was certainly disappointing to say the least, the entire team didn't really show up but as Houston fans probably remember, playing a Dominic Kinnear team is never easy. Thursday's result in Chicago saw a lot of key players rested back in Dallas as Pareja opted to do the smart thing and throw some younger guys out there on the road to give them experience. He did it earlier in the season in KC and picked up a draw and thought he could get the same in Chicago and nearly did. The hand full of key players that were rested should help spark the team on Sunday to get some points against Houston.
Projected Lineup: Jesse Gonzalez, Maynor Figueroa, Matt Hedges, Walker Zimmerman, Hernan Grana, Michael Barrios, Carlos Gruezo, Kellyn Acosta, Roland Lamah, Javier Morales, Maxi Urruti
For my answers to Drew’s excellent questions check them out at Big D Soccer!