Most of you that know me, know that I'm not originally from Dallas. I grew up miles away in West Virginia before moving down to the great state of Texas. By the time I moved to Texas back in 2007, the Houston Dynamo were winning MLS Cups left and right. Oddly enough they were winning them in what is now known as FC Dallas Stadium.
I walked into this rivalry from the start when I moved here. When I first moved to Dallas, most folks immediately told me "you hate Houston today, tomorrow and always as a Dallas sports fan".
That kind of emotion rang true to me as a West Virginia University grad that grew up with an intense dislike for the University of Pittsburgh.
I wasn't aware of the Dallas-Houston importance until probably a year or two later, and that is when the rivalry between these two clubs got good. Though that first meeting back in 2006 was pretty spectacular. A wild 4-3 game set the tone for this rivalry.
The first game I attended between these two was the infamous Ricardo Clark-Carlos Ruiz game. Yeah. That one.
On Sunday as part of Major League Soccer's new Rivalry Week, FC Dallas and the Houston will battle for "El Capitán," the civil-war era cannon currently in the possession of the Dynamo.
The Texas Derby hasn't gone in Dallas' favor so far in the short history of the rivalry. FC Dallas has only managed to win the cannon outright once back in 2010. Schellas Hyndman's group were down 10 men (thanks as always to a red card to Jair Benitez) on the road at Robertson Stadium. But then out of nowhere Ugo Ihemelu scored a late winner to bring the cannon to Dallas for the first time.
The cannon sat nicely next to the stage during the 2011 season until Houston reclaimed it.
Both teams have enjoyed their time with the cannon, but mostly the fun started with Dallas in 2011. They secured the permission to fire the cannon off during each game. Something that the Dynamo have since taken to do a version of their own since reclaiming it.
It's become a BBVA Compass Stadium tradition to wheel the cannon to the middle of the field before every game and have a Dynamo celebrity shoot "El Capitan" off before kick off - similar to FC Dallas' tradition of scarfing the Lamar Hunt statue.
In all, Dallas has only won three regular season meetings all-time against Houston. In the regular season, the Dynamo have owned FC Dallas with a 3-9-7 record (two of those wins have come at home by the way).
Houston has out scored Dallas in this regular season series as well, by claiming 27 goals to Dallas' 16.
I won't even go into the yellow and red cards, that number has to sit squarely with FC Dallas, most of which likely go to guys like Benitez.
Reclaiming the glory
Until the league gets back on a balanced schedule that sees everyone play each other twice in a season, fans will have to deal with these one game-a-season deals between the two clubs. Naturally they could still meet in the playoffs or in the US Open Cup later this year but the regular season is always special for rivalry series like this one.
This game has a ton of importance for not only this season but possibly years to come for Dallas. Hyndman needs a win in this series. As I've mentioned his teams haven't done well in these games in years past, mostly due to lack of emotional intelligence (we're looking at you Benitez). With so many new faces on the roster this year, Dallas will need to make sure to keep the emotions in check on Sunday.
We will dive into the Dynamo tomorrow (or Saturday) to give you all a sense of what exactly needs to be done to win this game. One thing is certain, a win on Sunday could really swing some positive momentum in to the season for FC Dallas that could set the club up for a good run in this early season.