The Texas Derby returns tomorrow evening and FC Dallas midfielder Kellyn Acosta knows Houston all too well.
The hate for the Houston Dynamo dates back to the Academy days for a lot of Dallas' Homegrowns, like Acosta, who are now full-fledged professionals.
"We just grew up not liking each other," said Acosta. "It’s very competitive, everyone wants to be the Kings of Texas."
The trash talk and the intensity from both sides creates an atmosphere unlike most in MLS, because it's Texas, and Texas is it's own beast.
"The atmosphere is great," said Acosta. "The Houston fans don’t like us, and the Dallas fans don’t like Houston. It goes back and forth. We just don’t like each other. It’s a fierce rivalry."
Although there's trash talk, when the whistle blows and both teams are on the field, goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez says "you just have to tune it out and play your butt off on the field, because at the end of the day, talking trash is not going to win the game."
Dallas is confident their recent success against Houston will continue tomorrow night. In fact, Acosta's response when asked if their success will continue was "yes, for sure." But, he knows this is a different, stronger team than in past years. The additions of Cristian Maidana and Andrew Wenger, and moving Giles Barnes to the wing gives them a new look they haven't had.
"We can’t live in the past," Acsota said. "They have a new team. They added some tools, so I think we just need to be mindful of that and also just play our game and take it to ‘em."
The in-state rivalry means a lot to the fans, and maybe even more to the players who are battling it out to take home El Capitan, the prized cannon.
"It’s important for the team," said Gonzalez. "The effort is going to be there from both teams. Both teams want to win this game."
The weather during training this week hasn't stopped FC Dallas from prepping for the Texas Derby tomorrow. They are preparing like they would for a normal game.
"Just like any other game, our ultimate goal is to go out there and get three points," said Acosta. "We need to be strong defensively and tactically we need to be organized. On offense we just need to be sound and create that final pass for Fabian (Castillo), Mauro (Diaz), (Michael) Barrios, and (Maxi) Urruti. Create shots on goal, create chances."
Although the players admit the rivalry gives them a little more incentive to play well and win, FCD is going to stick to the game plan tomorrow and play their game.
"There’s always something there," said Acosta. "We try to add that to our fire and keep going and keep chugging. We know what we need to do. We need to play our system [Head Coach Oscar Pareja] has implemented and just play our game and hopefully good things will happen."