Texas Derby heats up between Dallas and Houston

Latest prank thanks San Jose for allowing Houston to 'inherit' two MLS championships

FRISCO, Texas – When FC Dallas president and CEO Doug Quinn instructed fans to “stay tuned” in regards to who would land the next punch in FCD's rivalry with the Houston Dynamo, he wasn’t kidding.

On Tuesday an oversized greeting card arrived in the offices of the San Jose Earthquakes – the same franchise who became the Houston Dynamo in 2005, when players and head coach Dominic Kinnear were moved down to Texas and the Bay Area club was put on hiatus.

The card read:

THANK YOU!
THANK YOU!

San Jose,
If it weren’t for your franchise, we’d have nothing to hang our 10-gallon hats on. We inherited two championships when you gave us your team. And for that, we say thank you.

The card was signed ‘In Soccer and in Love, Houston’ – although few believe the South Texas MLS franchise was responsible.

WATCH: San Jose opens the ‘thank you’ card

It was just the latest blow in a series of back-and-forth pranks between FC Dallas and their Texas rival, who will meet in Houston on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the first leg of the 2011 Texas Derby.

“It’s a great rivalry, and we both want to build it,” Quinn said. “He [Houston Dynamo president Chris Canetti] asked me earlier in the year what my level of tolerance would be and I said, ‘I have a very high level of tolerance, so long as you have a high level of tolerance.’”

Houston got the rivalry revving with the placement of a billboard along the Dallas North Tollway, only a few miles from Pizza Hut Park. The sign reminded Dallas faithful of Houston’s two MLS championships (FCD fell just short of their first in overtime of MLS Cup last season). [see the billboard]

FC Dallas struck back not once, but twice with aerial banners flying behind a plane over Robertson Stadium during Houston home matches. The first read “FC Dallas ‘Til I Die,” followed three weeks later by “#WeAllHateHouston,” a reference to FCD’s Twitter campaign uniting Dynamo rivals across the country.

WATCH: #WeAllHateHouston banner flies over Robertson Stadium in Houston

Houston responded with a clever commercial that said comparing the city of Houston to the city of Dallas was like “comparing a rodeo to a pony ride.”

WATCH: Houston Dynamo commercial

That’s when the gloves really came off – at least, in FC Dallas’ case. The club’s front office aided Supporters in the creation of a ‘Come and Take It’ flag featuring El Capitán, the 19th-century howitzer cannon that goes to the winner of each year’s Derby (FCD currently holds the cannon after winning last year’s Derby on a 2-1 aggregate).

The flag’s destination? Robertson Stadium. When Houston fans arrived to cheer on their squad in their home match against the New York Red Bulls, they were confronted by the ‘Come and Take It’ banner draped over the second level of the outside of the stadium (see photo above).

But the knockout punch was that oversized greeting card, which hit a nerve in Houston fans who have long fended off criticism of their two championships, won with the majority of the team – not to mention the head coach – they inherited from San Jose.

Houston responded with a postcard intended to remind the FC Dallas faithful of “what a CHAMPION looks like.” [see the postcard]

The true battle, of course, will be fought on the field come Saturday night (7:30 p.m., FSSW), and finished at Pizza Hut Park on September 24.

As for now?

We’ll call it a draw.