FRISCO - Wednesday night in Houston as FC Dallas seeks to not only win for the first time this season against their Texas Derby foe, but advance to the U.S. Open Cup Semifinals, it might come down to taking advantage of the club’s familiarity and fitness levels.
Through two games against the Houston side this season, FC Dallas is 0-1-1, including a forgettable 5-0 loss in week two.
However, since the team’s June 2nd 1-1 draw at a rain-soaked Toyota Stadium, FC Dallas is 6-2-0 in all competitions. While the team has played eight games in 35 days, averaging less than a game every five days, the team is confident in it’s fitness ahead of the derby matchup.
“I think we've done a good job of, starting in the preseason with this group, just preparing our bodies for runs like this and so as a whole, we're doing well physically and fitness-wise,” defender Walker Zimmerman said.
“You know, this is what we do –– this is our job –– and so know we're looking forward to showing off our fitness and showing off all the hard work that we've done in this stretch.”
In the time since their last matchup, after which saw head coach Owen Coyle part ways with the club, Houston has played well posting a 3-2-2 record in all competitions, including a 3-0-1 record at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Zimmerman knows that this game brings on more than a normal Open Cup match, being pitted against an in-state team that’s playing well.
“Well this is a rivalry game,” Zimmerman said, “so it's always going to be a little chippy. I think we have something to prove to them this season having not gotten a result, so we're going out there with the mentality of getting the win and its Open Cup so it's do or die.
“We know it could be our last game and so we want to continue this run.”
For FC Dallas, not finding winning success against Houston is unfamiliar territory. FC Dallas hasn’t failed to beat Houston in a season since 2012 and hasn’t gone two games in a row without a win against the Dynamo since September 2011. With the 2010 rules in place for El Capitan, meaning the result will only serve as a tiebreaker should FCD even up the goal differential in their final MLS match, the cannon's destination will likely not be affected by this match.
Even still, coach Oscar Pareja doesn’t see this game any differently.
“It doesn't add anything –– it's just the past,” Pareja said. “For me, it is what is happening in the present and what happens tomorrow in the field that matters.”
At the end of the day, it’s simply about winning.
“We know the opponent’s strengths and opportunities that we may have also, and surely they know us well,” Pareja said.
“So, there's two sides that know each other a lot, but we take the same approach, you know? It's trying to write a good story about this game and advancing in the [Open] Cup.”
FC Dallas will try to advance to the Open Cup semifinals for the ninth time Wednesday night at Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium at 7:30 p.m.