2015’s midseason lull came much like many others: with few points, roster re-thinks, midseason (or at least pending) acquisitions, and the same consternation, wingeing, or willful acceptance of mediocrity that has come to embody those of 2011, 2012, 201…
You get the point.
Two points from a possible fifteen is nothing to brag about. It’s reason to hide. Some teams would’ve closed up shop by this point (look at the Fire). But Dallas is at least buoyed by its impressive early season victories and unbeaten run, and likely that will help carry the side out of this current mess and into the playoffs. It’s odd to imagine, but if there was MLS relegation, would we be dropping the terms “Papi” and “chopping block” in the same sentences?
Despite the woes of May and June, Pareja’s ever-gilded reputation in Frisco has lost none of its shine. There are plenty of reasons results haven’t followed on the pitch in Dallas, Copa America and international duty absences, and not to mention the Matt Hedges injury that has made the FCD net more vulnerable than before.
This all changes tonight with a visit from Houston, a cannon, and a thankfully-revived conference rivalry. Frankly, this is the only cure to the past six weeks.
Houston and Dallas find a disparity of form between the two, even if slight. On one hand, Houston is 2-2-1 in its past five MLS contests. Again, Dallas has pulled only two of fifteen possible points for the better parts of May and June. Fortunately for Oscar Pareja the Dynamo are only 1-3-3 on the road this year and winless in their past three away matches. Furthermore, Houston hasn’t won in Frisco since 2011.
Houston should be respected (on the field, let’s not try to mentally grapple with respecting the city itself). Giles Barnes is having a career year after a bright 2015. His movement further forward in the Dynamo formation has landed him with six goals and an assist under Owen Coyle. Brad Davis (a former Dallas Burn starlet, lest we forget) is still lethal as ever on set pieces and whipping in crosses from the flanks. Will Bruin, whose head usually lands on a Davis cross, is having another solid year with seven goals thus far.
It’s a Dynamo side, overall, that had terribly inconsistent form heading in to the first installment of the Texas Derby. They only tallied two wins prior to that match, and still have only registered three since. It seems the inconsistency persists, if anything. But this is the best stretch of Houston’s form this season, and it’s fathomable that FCD get swept up in it. Given the past five matches, it’s easy to see that possibility becoming a reality.
However, given the historic struggles of the Dynamo in North Texas, their overall inconsistency, and a final, thankful, blissful return home for Pareja’s side, it is tough to see around an overwhelming show of force from FCD tonight. Let’s not forget just how lethal the FCD counter and Mauro both were at BBVA in early May, and how utterly confused the Dynamo back line looked at times. Watson’s return from Copa America duty and Hedges return from injury (hopefully) only help further the FCD cause.
Should a win for the Friscans be on the cards tonight, will pull within one game of tying Houston in the overall history of the Texas Derby (10 HOU wins, 7 draws, 8 FCD wins).