FRISCO, Texas -- FC Dallas forward Kenny Cooper has never quite had a nickname stick through his career, but perhaps “Houston Hitman” would be appropriate.
No FC Dallas player has scored more Texas Derby goals against the Dynamo and Cooper added to his team-leading tally in the first matchup this season with his late game-winner in the 3-2 victory that brought “El Capitan” back to Frisco.
“It’s a great rivalry between the clubs and one that’s very important to both sets of fans,” Cooper said after practice on Monday. “Knowing that as a player, you want to go out there and give your best.”
If the intensity is high for an MLS game, you know it will be cranked up even more on the pitch as Wednesday’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup fourth round game is just the second time the teams have met in a do-or-die LHUSOC match.
“That win or go home theme is one you see in other sports in the playoffs…you see it now in the NBA,” said Cooper. “It makes for great games and I think they’re games that players really, really get up for.
“The game against Houston is always very important to the club whether it’s a friendly, reserve game, Open cup or league game. I think as players we know how important [it is] any time we put on our jersey and go up against the in-state rivals.”
Wednesday’s match represents the fourth time FC Dallas has hosted MLS competition at FCD Stadium in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, and the first time the Texas rivals have faced off in the competition since 2006, Houston’s first MLS season. With last weekend off, FCD heads into the game almost fully healthy for the first time in quite a while and it’s clear that plenty of emphasis is being placed on the tournament’s 100th edition.
“The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is extremely important because it’s another competition that we can find a way into [CONCACAF Champions League],” said Schellas Hyndman. “Also, one of the most important things is the owner’s name is on the trophy and it would mean so much to the family and to us to bring that trophy back.”