Houston Dynamo FC and FC Dallas each hold a record of 1-1-1 early into the 2021 Major League Soccer season and with the first match between the longtime rivals it’s time to talk about the Texas Derby – sorry Austin FC, you have to forge a rivalry, not just be from Texas.
Outlined in another story I wrote, I discussed how Dynamo manager Tab Ramos has been totally reluctant to change his starting XI, and of course we’ve done plenty of stories on the Dynamo here at Dynamo Theory. However, we wanted to get our opponent’s perspective on the game and their season outlook so we reached out to our SB Nation
friends rivals at Big D Soccer and talked with Drew Epperley to shed some light on FC Dallas.
Dynamo Theory: FC Dallas has made the playoffs the last three seasons in a row and finished sixth in the Western Conference last season. Following a run to the conference semifinals in 2020, what are the expectations for Dallas and how far the club can make a run in 2021?
Big D Soccer: Naturally, we would like to see this club continue to progress under Luchi Gonzalez in year three to something more than a conference semifinal. In some corners, there are those that are expecting an MLS Cup trip out of this group but more realistically, I think getting to the playoffs as one of the top four teams in the West is more reasonable this season. Personally, I think should injuries not happen in a big way, the newcomers get used to MLS quickly, the youth continue to step up and some luck happens that this team could make a deep run in the playoffs.
DT: Both the Dynamo and FCD have a record of 1-1-1 to start the year. Your club stumbled a little out of the gates with a draw and then a loss, but really rebounded with a dominating 4-1 win over the Portland Timbers. What did you see turn around for your side resulting in such a big win over the Timbers?
BDS: Last week was a bit of good timing, given that the Timbers were busy with the Champions League. So they were heavily rotated with their lineup and by the time they began putting in some of their first-choice guys, the game was already out of hand for them. But aside from that, Gonzalez opted to switch formations from a 3-4-3 look back into his tried and tested 4-3-3. That shift opened up the attack more as the midfield was able to dominate the possession a little bit more than in the previous two weeks. They created more chances on goal and in return, scored more. Also, he played his young players again, which he wasn’t doing nearly as much in the first two weeks of the season.
DT: Who were some key offseason signings and for the casual viewer, who are some players to keep an eye on in the first Texas derby of the new season?
BDS: Both wingers are new for FC Dallas in Jader Obrian and Freddy Vargas. So far both are doing pretty well to get acclimated into MLS and in Dallas. Obrian scored his first goal last week on an assist from our keeper. He’s one of those guys with speed that can get in behind a defense and torch them.
DT: Bonus question: Curious on any thoughts on the new Texas team, Austin FC, and how can they develop into a proper rival besides being from Austin?
BDS: Ha Austin. It is a bit cute that there is a team in Austin now, isn’t it? I don’t know how Houston views Austin but I know here in Dallas we get a little bit worked up over our state capital in various ways. Personally, I welcome them and love the idea of a team in that market. I think like with any rivalries, it just needs time. It isn’t going to happen overnight and be a success but if the supporters get together and focus on the fun aspects of a rivalry like this, instead of letting the marketing folks run with things, I do believe it will be for the better in the long run. (and thankfully the supporters’ groups are doing that!)
For my answers to Drew’s excellent questions, please check them out at Big D Soccer!