The Houston Dynamo will make their way to Toyota Park to take on their in-state rivals FC Dallas. The two sides have faced off twice this year with both times ending in a draw. The first meeting in Frisco, TX led to a 0-0 draw with the second in Houston being a 1-1 draw. That means the winner of this game gets to take home or, in our case keep, El Capitán.
In our preview of the match we discussed the previous meetings between the two sides and reminded Dynamo fans about the sanctions facing traveling supporters, but we wanted to see how things were going for our rivals up north so we spoke with Drew Epperley at Big D Soccer to get the scoop on FCD.
Dynamo Theory: Despite being one of the better clubs in the league, FC Dallas seems to be going through a bit of a rough patch getting just one point in the last four games. What’s been one of the big causes for concern there and are FCD fans a little worried with Houston coming into town?
Big D Soccer: There are a few reasons why things have been going south for this group over the last few weeks. First off all, the attack went from being solid game in and game out, to being one that doesn't know their way around the net. Maxi Urruti, Roland Lamah and Michael Barrios were firing on all cylinders at the beginning of the summer but unfortunately they all went cold at the same time as well.
Then there is the defense that finally saw a straw break during the summer when Walker Zimmerman went down (and presumably came back too early), guys like Matt Hedges, Maynor Figueroa and Kellyn Acosta were called away on national team duty and then Carlos Gruezo picked up a two game suspension. There has been heavy rotation in the back, which was okay for a brief spell but the lack of consistency in who starts in the defense has started to become an issue for the team.
Lastly, Mauro Diaz has really yet to come back from his injury and be the MVP-caliber player that folks around MLS know that he can be. He's had brief moments where he has looked the part but over the last few weeks he has been slowed down, mostly due to a hamstring issue, and it has caused him to look disconnected from his fellow attackers.
DT: Dallas were recently at Children’s Mercy Park playing Sporting Kansas City before coming home to play Houston and then have to travel to Columbus to take on Crew SC. What kind of measures is Oscar Pareja taking with so many fixtures in such a short amount of time?
Big D Soccer: Thankfully the one thing this team is accustomed to this season (and last) is playing stretches of games in a short period of time. They haven't had to do it in a while but this group has been well equipped to respond well in these situations. I would imagine Pareja will roll out as strong of a lineup for this game as he can and then rotate in some younger players this weekend when the team heads east to Columbus. Winning at home right now is a priority for the team, not to mention ending this four-game slump as quickly as possible.
DT: FC Dallas is the reigning Supporter Shield champions and has had eyes on the MLS Cup several years now. What would taking back El Capitán mean for the club?
Big D Soccer: This season has always been about one thing, getting to and winning a MLS Cup. That is the big prize that all Dallas fans want at this point as they've felt it slip away over the years. But beating Houston is always a big deal for Dallas fans. Most folks would tell you that a dark mark on 2016 wasn't just missing out on a MLS Cup but it was also losing El Capitan to Houston. Wednesday night is all about winning back the cannon and getting out of this slump.
Projected Lineup: Jesse Gonzalez, Hernan Grana, Matt Hedges, Walker Zimmerman, Maynor Figueroa, Carlos Gruezo, Kellyn Acosta, Roland Lamah, Mauro Diaz, Michael Barrios, Maxi Urruti
For my answers to Drew’s excellent questions check them out at Big D Soccer!