FRISCO – FC Dallas ends a stretch of three games in nine days on Sunday night (7:00 p.m., FS1) with a Texas Derby showdown at Toyota Stadium. For the first time this season, Dallas will play the Houston Dynamo, with the home side eager to take the first step towards regaining El Capitan.
Here are some things to keep in mind ahead of the match:
Wild, Wild West
Sunday’s game pits two of the top three teams in the Western Conference against one another. Dallas and Houston are tied in second place with 19 points apiece, three points behind first-place Sporting Kansas City. In only three seasons (2006, 2007, 2011) have both Dallas and Houston qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs, and it hasn’t happened since Houston joined the Western Conference in 2015.
The Dynamo have yet to claim a road point this season, losing all five of their prior road matches. Away from BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston has conceded 14 goals while scoring only three. Houston has lost three of its five road games in 2017 by a 2-0 score, and the Dynamo are winless in their last seven road contests going back to last season.
Containing “El Cubo”
Dallas will face another prolific forward this weekend in Erick “El Cubo” Torres. The Mexican international has nine goals in 11 games this season after not scoring for Houston during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Torres spent time on loan at Liga MX sides Chivas de Guadalajara and Cruz Azul during those seasons, although he’s regained his MLS scoring touch of late, after having previously scored 22 goals in two seasons with Chivas USA.
Thou Shall Not Score
No team in MLS has allowed less goals this season than FC Dallas. Solid defending and goalkeeping has meant Dallas has conceded just nine times, which is tied with Sporting Kansas City for the fewest. Among MLS goalkeepers with at least five games played, Jesse Gonzalez has the lowest goals against average (0.63) and the second-highest save percentage (76 percent).
Taking Back The Cannon
Possession of El Capitan, the replica 18th century cannon given to the winner of the Texas Derby season series, switched hands last season as Houston claimed the trophy for the first time since 2012. Houston won only one of last season’s three MLS regular season meetings, but claimed the title on goal differential. It’s been a while since Houston has beaten FC Dallas in Frisco, though, with their last road victory in the series coming in 2011. The teams will have three regular season meetings again this year, with two coming at Toyota Stadium.