It has long been speculated that the Houston Dynamo will move back to the Western Conference starting in 2015, when New York City FC and and Orlando City SC will join Major League Soccer. While that move will provide many challenges for the Dynamo, it also provides many opportunities. The biggest one being the chance to renew their rivalry with FC Dallas.
Ever since their move to the Eastern Conference in 2011, the Texas Rivalry has lacked a lot of the spice that made it so enjoyable for fans on either side of I-45. With only one meeting a year in league play, and a possible match up in the Open Cup, the normal familiarity in rivalries has been lacking. El Capitan, the 19th century replica howitzer, has become almost forgettable.
With this chance to renew our rivalry with the Hoops, we look back at a rivalry that sparked many an unforgettable moment. Lots of tears have been shed, hearts broken and even blood spilled. Yet even more importantly many of the best moments in Dynamo history came from these games. In anticipation of more joy, or sadness, here are some flashbacks to the great Texas Rivalry.
1) May 6, 2006 HOU 4 – 3 FCD
This game is often highlighted by many for its physical play and high scoring. And while that is all great and fun, the real story for me came before and after the game. Before the game, all of the players admitted that they weren’t familiar with the rivalry, but, as Coach Kinnear told the Houston Chronicle’s Bernardo Fallas, “… if fans are going to make it into a rivalry, I’m all for it.”
The game itself ended up being a chippy affair with 6 yellow cards. Tackles were tough, elbows thrown and everyone received a “gentle” bump from their opponent. In a rivalry known for its physical play, this one stands above most for the hard hits.
2) April 6, 2008 HOU 3 – 3 FCD
There was so much to enjoy about this game, in a way. We started the game off nicely with our new Argentine signing Franco Caraccio scoring his first goal for the Dynamo early in the match, only for Kenny Cooper to bag a brace to take the lead for Dallas. An own goal briefly leveled the score before Arturo Alvarez gave Dallas a 3-2 lead.
A huge crowd hoped and sang and shouted for their team to tie the game. A 3rd round draft pick named Geoff Cameron scored on a Ching layoff in the 94′ to give the Dynamo a point. The stadium erupted in the kind of joy usually reserved for a playoff match. For the final seconds and long after the whistle the fans shouted for joy and cheered the players off the field.
3) May 5, 2010 HOU 0 – 1 FCD
You know, before this game, FC Dallas had a grand total of 3 wins in all competitions against the Dynamo, all in Frisco. The series was so lopsided that FCD had been shut out 6 times (resulting in 5 wins and 1 draw). After this day, the series, from our perspective, started going down hill. How bad? We haven’t beaten Dallas since, home or away. Ouch.
It was a very frustrating game for our Orange Warriors with defender Eddie Robinson leaving the match early with an injury. On top of that all of our shots either went straight to ‘keeper Kevin Hartman or missed their mark completely. After the final whistle the players meandered off the field, heads hung low.
Fans certainly let them know how they felt, too. In the hours and days following the match, players took to social media to apologize about the result. On the positive side a rivalry can’t really be born until both sides win. On the bad side, shortly after this game we moved to the Eastern Conference, limiting matches between these teams.
4) September 30, 2007 HOU 3 – 0 FCD
I’m just going to leave this here:
This incident resulted in a 7 game suspension for Ricardo Clark as well as a large fine. Deserved? Absolutely. Did Ruiz deserve it? In my opinion it was bound to happen eventually. Besides, we got such classic “discussions” like this that made it totally worth it.
5) November 2, 2007 HOU 4 – 1 FCD aet
I could probably write 1,000 words about this match that wouldn’t fully encapsulate just how awesome that day was (and still is). After losing the first game in the playoff series 0-1 in Frisco, the Dynamo came back home facing criticism from fans and media alike. They responded by starting the game off slow, allowing Ruiz to give Dallas a 2 goal, aggregate, lead.
Brian Ching responded by grabbing a goal and 2 assists to lead the team to a memorable victory in front of over 30, 000 raucous fans at Robertson Stadium. Fans celebrated long into the night and even into the next day. When they tried to buy tickets for the Western Conference Final against the Kansas City Wizards (since renamed Sporting KC), they crashed the phone system.
Everything was set up to be great. The Dynamo had one of the largest playoff crowds in MLS history for the game against their biggest rival. Coming off a poor performance in Frisco, they were motivated to not disappoint their fans. Heck, about a month before the game they had this gem of a halftime performance, almost as if they knew this matchup was inevitable. Maybe it was. Fate certainly lined up the stars and planets just right for arguably one of the most memorable playoff runs in MLS history (not the best…that still goes to San Jose from 2003).
When the rivalry picks up against next year (or whenever we officially move back West), keep these moments in your mind and heart, and prepare for more of them. Against stiffer competition on a weekly basis, the team will improve. Against our biggest rival, the team will pick their game up to give us more memorable games that you will want to relive over and over again.