Twelve points separate first-place FC Dallas from the Houston Dynamo in the Western Conference standings but whenever these two Texas teams meet on the pitch, the game — dubbed the Texas Derby — is about much more than three points.
But while the game is a derby, Houston would love nothing more than to get all three points and keep climbing the standings, where they currently sit below the playoff line with 26 points.
“It’s a game where they’re simply ahead of us in the standings, and it’s a chance for us to test ourselves against the team that’s in first place in the West right now,” Dynamo ‘keeper Chris Seitz said. “For us, we need these games, we need to win these games, and it’s at home and we’ll go out there attacking and we’ll go out there putting our best foot forward.”
Seitz, who’s in his first year with the Dynamo, spent seven seasons with FC Dallas and will be experiencing the rivalry from the Orange side for the first time. With that much time spent with Dallas, Seitz knows just what kind of problems FC Dallas will cause the Dynamo on Saturday (8 p.m. CT, TICKETS).
“They press high and the workrate of Maxi [Urruti] is incredible. They look to press up the field and win the ball in their attacking third, our defensive third, and convert numbers from there,” Seitz said.
“For us, we have guys that are starting to press higher and higher and we’re starting to win the ball up the field as well. It’s going to be a great match. And it’s obviously a rivalry and I look forward to joining it from this side.”
While Seitz is new to the rivalry from the Dynamo side, Mauro Manotas, who’s in his fourth season with Houston, remembers when Dallas was the king of the state but says that all changed the past couple of seasons. After FC Dallas won El Capitan three-straight years (2013-15), the Dynamo have taken it home in each of the past two thanks goal differential in 2016 and three draws in 2017.
“I have had the opportunity to be here four years. In my first couple of years, they would beat us soundly. Every time we played them they won,” Manotas said. “This past year we were able to suppress the intensity that they had. This year, God willing, we hope for it to be us winning here and at their stadium.”
For Seitz, who noted that he still has a lot of friends in the FC Dallas organization, is there any trash talking going on?
“No comment,” Seitz said, before admitting that he was kidding. “I have a lot of friends there on the organization and on the team still. So I keep in contact with them but listen, the minute that whistle blows all that goes out the window and I have one goal on my mind."