One of the few bright spots of the 2016 season, reclaiming El Capitan from Dallas allowed the Dynamo one victory over their league topping rivals. The two clubs will face off tomorrow in Houston as peers, tied for 2nd in the western conference along with Portland. It’s a far cry from the final match of the Texas Derby last year when a wide gulf separated the teams in the standings.
Match #1 of the 2017 edition on May 20th was a hard fought affair between the FCD attack and Tyler Deric, who returned to the net for the first time that game since the bench swap with Joe Willis earlier in the season. Deric and the Dynamo earned a clean sheet and their first point on the road, drawing 0-0. That draw was important for a couple of reasons. The road troubles have been covered and discussed to no end, and the club’s performance in that game landed somewhere between the lackluster efforts prior to it, and the competent-but-completely-robbed-by-the-refs effort last weekend in LA. It signaled the beginning of the turnaround. More to the point though, it neutralized FCD’s home field advantage in the lopsided 3-game Derby. With their high scoring tendencies at BBVA that should give the Dynamo the edge in the fight for El Capitan.
Dallas limits goals in a big way, however, allowing just 14 so far this season. That’s good for second fewest in MLS. CB Walker Zimmerman left the previous derby match with an MCL strain, and combined with Matt Hedges call up for international duty has left the backline a little stretched. They’ve let in 5 goals in their last 3 outings, not including a 1-1 draw with Tulsa in the USOC. Hedges has returned but Zimmerman is still out. After making his 2017 debut against Houston in May, Mauro Diaz has yet to play any significant time as he has been coming off the bench for less than 30 minutes in each match since. It’s unclear at this time if he’ll get the start this weekend, or even when that start will come. His impact shouldn’t be undervalued though.
The LA game last weekend signified something else for the Dynamo, a lessening reliance on the attacking trio that buffeted the team for the early season. Quito and Elis did not see the field together and yet the team did manage to score twice. Despite only getting one off target shot off, Quioto should be noted for the quietly efficient way he is playing this season. The numbers were better earlier in the season, but he is currently putting two-thirds of his shots on goal into the net. Not nearly as efficient, but still scoring regularly, Manotas continued to make a case for increased playing time by simply being in the right position, hustling, and making the easy shot off of a DaMarcus Beasley deflection. I fully expect the team to feature Elis, Quioto and Torres in the 4-3-3 this week, but when goal differential matters it’s good to know there are many varied scoring threats on the team.
Round 2 of the Texas Derby kicks off at 8:00 pm CST at BBVA Compass Stadium tomorrow, June 23.