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Third Derby of 2021: 3 things to watch

Houston Dynamo FC host FC Dallas in the third and final meeting of the regular season on Saturday at BBVA Stadium.

MLS: FC Dallas at Houston Dynamo Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Houston welcomes rival FC Dallas to BBVA Stadium tonight, looking to find some form and cap off a disappointing 2021 season with some highlights. Tonight’s game will air locally on UniMas channel 67 with pre-game coverage beginning at 8:00 PM CT.

Cannon Coming Home

Houston and Dallas have split the previous two meetings with back-to-back draws and tonight’s winner, if there is one, will earn bragging rights in this rivalry. Both teams have had 2021 seasons to forget, sitting below the playoff line in the Western Conference, but it is always an accomplishment to take out your rival. The Dynamo may not have a lot to hang their hats on from this season but taking the series from the club in Frisco can give the supporters something to remember this year by and maybe even something the club can build on going forward.

A New Goalkeeper

MLS: Austin FC at Houston Dynamo Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

With Marko Maric’s injury keeping him sidelined, the Dynamo have turned to local product Michael Nelson in goal, and the Katy native has impressed. Michael Nelson earned MLSSoccer.com Team of the Week Honors for his performance against the LA Galaxy on Wednesday, recording three saves and helping Houston earn a point against a team that had scored 37 goals this season, tied for the third highest mark in the Western Conference. Nelson made his MLS debut on Aug. 28 at BBVA Stadium against Minnesota and has now started in four consecutive matches. With Maric back in training, will he return to the lineup or has Nelson done enough to keep the job? I think you have to stick with the kid and keep letting him grow and perhaps blossoming in to a future centerpiece. And Nelson being a local kid, this match with Dallas means something to him. “I remember those games vividly (against Dallas),” Nelson told the media. “I remember seeing orange streamers flying everywhere at Robertson Stadium, but it’s always been a match up that’s had a lot of intensity to it. I think there’s been quite a few notable, we’ll call them comings together, in the past, but it’s a game that has a lot of passion both from the players and the fans’ perspective. So, it should be a good one and a very competitive outing.”

Frisco’s Young Guns

FC Dallas’ academy has continued to produce talent and attackers Ricardo Pepi and Jesus Ferreira are the next of this crop of youngsters. Ferreira is the son of former MLS MVP David and Ricardo Pepi has been all the rage this summer with his impressive MLS season leading to a USMNT call up and debut goal. The Dynamo have to be cognizant of these two young goal scorers and Tab Ramos knows that. “Dallas is very dangerous upfront,’ Ramos said this week. “(Ricardo) Pepi and (Jesus) Ferreira are very difficult to contain. I really think that is the key to their game. Having (Brandon) Servania back from Europe is a tremendous help. I know the type of technical ability that he has, he’s a player that we tried to get in the off-season. We like him a lot here and I think he adds a little bit more position to their game.”