Today is the third and final installment of 2018’s Texas Derby between the Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas. The two sides have battled it out in two previous fixtures in Houston with both results going 1-1 so now the winner of El Capitán will be decided in Frisco, TX. FC Dallas has been the better side this season currently occupying the top spot in the Western Conference and the Dynamo have trended the other direction and are currently on a 9 game winless streak.
In our preview of the match we discussed some of the previous games between the two sides, but we wanted to know more about our I-45 rivals so we spoke with Drew Epperley at Big D Soccer to get his take on the derby.
Dynamo Theory: FC Dallas currently sits just a point over Sporting Kansas City for the top spot in the Western Conference. What kind of priority is Oscar Pareja giving this game and what would it mean to regain El Capitán?
Big D Soccer: Pareja has given the motto “every game is important” this season so in terms of priority, it is the most important one. Ha.
For the fans though, this is certainly a big deal as they want the cannon back in the stadium, they want to beat Houston any time on the field, and they want to stay on top of the West. Right now the team isn’t on the best of form and getting a home win over their top rivals to begin the final two months of the season would certainly help relieve any worry that this team is going to stumble down the standings.
DT: Having played earlier this week, what kind of adjustments to the lineup might we see for Oscar Pareja and how will those players step up in the Texas Derby?
BDS: Dallas was able to rest a couple of key players in the midweek, and even last time around against the Dynamo. Goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez is expected to be back in between the pipes after getting a couple games off. Defender Reto Ziegler should be back from his rest that Pareja opted to give him. Carlos Gruezo will be back from suspension, which should help sure up things on the defensive front in the midfield. Roland Lamah is a bit of a question as he picked up a knock last week before the last Dynamo game. Should he get back, we should see him back on the wings along with Michael Barrios.
DT: Dallas has been among the best clubs at home this season. How can Houston go into Toyota Stadium and come away with a long overdue win?
BDS: If Houston wants to get points, they need to do exactly what San Jose has been able to do this season against Dallas. The Quakes were able to find space through the channels and put a different kind of pressure on the back line. If Houston can pull Ziegler and Matt Hedges away from one another in the center of the park or catch Dallas on a fast break, it could cause Dallas to case a game that they don’t need to chase.
Projected Lineup: Jesse Gonzalez, Marquinhos Pedroso, Reto Ziegler, Matt Hedges, Reggie Cannon, Victor Ulloa, Carlos Gruezo, Santiago Mosquera, Maxi Urruti, Michael Barrios, Dominque Badji
For my answers to Drew’s excellent questions, please check them out at Big D Soccer!