The Houston Dynamo are back at home after a long road trip that began with a game in Seattle, then a US Open Cup game in North Carolina, and ended in Southern California. That’s a lot of miles so the team is probably very glad to be home where they have played so well this season. This time they’ll go up against their rivals FC Dallas. The last time these clubs met was in a 0-0 draw in Frisco, TX and while the result was encouraging as the Dynamo’s first point on the road, saw Dallas have the lion’s share of chances to score. Houston will want to show Dallas exactly how good they have been this season at BBVA Compass Stadium to get a leg up on keeping El Capitán.
In our preview of the match we discussed the last meeting between the two sides, but we wanted an insider’s perspective on our rivals so we spoke with Drew Epperley at Big D Soccer to discuss the 2nd Texas Derby match.
Dynamo Theory: While the result was encouraging for the Dynamo in the last meeting between these two teams, one could argue that FC Dallas were the better side, or at least the side with more chances to pull out a game winner. With 15 shots total, only 3 were on target. The Dynamo sat back a little too deep and invited pressure, but FCD’s shots went over, went wide, and just didn’t want to go in. What will Dallas do differently to get more shots on frame?
Big D Soccer: The last meeting was certainly frustrating for FCD. Like you mentioned, the chances were there but none were really of any quality on goal. I think the big difference on Friday could easily be Mauro Diaz. He is expected to be more involved in this game as his minutes have gone up since the last meeting when he made his season debut. His involvement should help spark the attack that has gotten going a bit more in recent weeks. We did after all have a 6-2 win over RSL a week after meeting you guys in late May. That win really helped spark things.
DT: With Walker Zimmerman sidelined for the time being how big of a hole in central defense does he leave?
BDS: He definitely has been a tough player to replace in the central defense. Luckily the depth has stepped up pretty well over the course of the last month with rookie Walker Hume getting some quality minutes, Atiba Harris filling in quite nicely in the role and even more recently, Maynor Figueroa returning to that spot in the lineup. Dallas has options in those three to replace Zimmerman again Friday night and I would imagine Oscar Pareja will go with Figueroa again like he did in Vancouver last weekend. At the end of the day, this group still has a steady rock in Matt Hedges to lean on, so not all is lost in the central defense when you have him.
DT: The last of the Texas Derby matches will be played in Frisco, TX as this match will be the only Derby game played in Houston. Knowing that how will Oscar Pareja approach this game and tactically what should Houston fans expect?
BDS: This is also the last of a three-game road trip for FC Dallas too, I should throw that out there for you all as well. As far as the tactics go, I would expect this game to be a bit of a reverse of the last meeting. I see Dallas as the team that will sit back more and wait for their chances. That is pretty much the script they follow on the road, which has gotten them a couple good wins and a few draws away from home so far this season. They'll wait for their chances and counter with their speed on the wings. A lot will go through Diaz and if he can get on the same page with his fellow attackers, they'll find better chances than they did in the previous meeting and hopefully finish them off.
Projected Lineup: Jesse Gonzalez, Atiba Harris, Maynor Figueroa, Matt Hedges, Hernan Grana, Roland Lamah, Carlos Gruezo, Kellyn Acosta, Michael Barrios, Mauro Diaz, Maxi Urruti
For my answers to Drew’s excellent questions check them out at Big D Soccer!