The Texas Derby is finally here! The battle for El Captian is upon us as FC Dallas travels to Houston the face the Dynamo this weekend at BBVA Compass Stadium.
FC Dallas Notes:
Homegrown initiative. FCD has signed 11 Homegrown players, more than any other MLS team to date. Last week FCD has five HGPs in the top 18 against Portland. Two of those started the game (Kellyn Acosta and Victor Ulloa), and one came off the bench (Moises Hernandez).
Diaz in March. Mauro Diaz earned the MLS Player of the Month award, the first time a FCD player has picked one of those up since 2011 when Kevin Hartman last did it.
Quick stats from Portland game - Here are the Opta stats from last week's game:
Michel: 139 actions (game high).
Jair Benitez: 48 successful passes, four successful crosses, three key passes.
Stephen Keel: 31/34 passing efficiency.
Kellyn Acosta: Six headers won.
Matt Hedges: 41/44 passing efficiency.
Mauro Diaz: 63/69 passing efficiency.
Victor Ulloa: 48/53 passing efficiency.
2010. The last time FC Dallas picked up a win in the Bayou City was in 2010 at Robertson Stadium. Good times, good times.
Keys to three points:
More Houston Previews
More Houston Previews
The Houston Dynamo are off to a pretty solid start with two wins in their first three games. Their lone loss came last weekend in Vancouver as the Whitecaps won that one 2-1.
We know this will be a physical battle, just like any and all rivalry matches are. Houston will likely try to play up to that factor, being that this is a home game and they love to find ways to compact their playing field by controlling the midfield. They know they can get under FCD's skin with some early fouls and pressure.
Where this game will be won and lost is in the midfield. Dallas holds the edge in the sense that they have the ability to pin Houston's defense back with the speed of Je-Vaughn Watson and Fabian Castillo out wide. If FCD is able to spread out the attack and limit what Houston is able to do in the middle of the park, good things will happen. Castillo has done a great job this season of pinning back opposing full backs. Last week against Jack Jewsbury he was able to limit his chances of moving forward. Castillo will have to do the same thing this weekend against Corey Ashe or Kofi Sarkodie. Both of them love to get forward into the attack and Castillo can limit their movement forward.
The middle of the park is where Houston will want to do their dirty work. Ricardo Clark will likely play the hack-a-Diaz game in this one to limit what Diaz is able to do on the ball. Thankfully Hendry Thomas is back for FCD and can help free up the young Argentine off the ball with the way he holds up space in the middle of the field.
Both teams are solid at set pieces. Brad Davis is a great set piece taker and will always put his team in good spots from his left wing post. Keeping his chances limited will be huge in this match.
Lastly, there is Will Bruin, who is off to a hot start for the Dynamo with three goals this season. If you allow him to get in space, he will make you pay. Matt Hedges and Stephen Keel will have to keep a close eye on him and not allow him to get in behind them. Houston is 13-2-7 all-time when Bruin scores a goal. Limit Bruin, and you stand a good chance of leaving that hostile environment with points.
Getting Thomas back in the line up is big for Oscar Pareja. Dallas has to keep some level heads about themselves in this rivalry match. If they do that, limit the wings and find ways to push forward in the attack, they'll stand a good chance at coming back with points and the cannon for another season. I think a positive result at the very least is getting a draw. We know how good Houston is in their own building and if Dallas can weather the storm, which I think they will, we should see them come back with a hard-earned draw.
FC Dallas 1, Houston 1