FRISCO - With the all-important Texas Derby against Houston Dynamo coming up on Sunday, August 25, we spoke to former FC Dallas players Kenny Cooper (2006-09, 2013), Peter Luccin (2013-14) and Michel Garbini (2013-15) about what the rivalry means to them, and some of their favorite moments from derbies past.
What does the Texas Derby mean to you?
“It means a lot, it was a special game,” said Kenny Cooper, who had two stints with FC Dallas and 10 caps for the U.S. Men’s National Team. “I think it’s one that everyone circles on the calendar. You know it’s important to the fans, you get a lot of fans traveling down to Houston or up from Houston. It’s a special game and intense rivalry. And a difficult game, a real challenge but it’s a fun one to play in.”
“To be honest, we all know what it means to play a derby,” said current FC Dallas assistant coach Peter Luccin. “It’s about emotion, how to manage your emotion, how to manage the momentum of the game, how to manage stress. But to be honest, it’s beautiful to play a game like this. We’re born and we leave, and this is exactly what we want. But this is more than a derby, we have seven games left so it’s a final. So now we just need to win.”
“For Texas it means a lot,” said Michel Garbini, now the assistant coach for North Texas SC. “It’s the biggest game, hopefully FC Dallas can get back in the wins against them. We’re going to be supporting the team, and the three points will be very important to us.”
What’s your favorite Texas Derby moment?
“I think any goal, but to be honest they were all difficult games,” Cooper said. “Some of the Houston teams that I played against were very good—championship winning sides—so playing them, you knew you were up for a fight. So many great players that I have such great respect for—Brian Ching, Richard Mulrooney (who I also played with here in Dallas), Dwayne de Rosario, Eddie Robinson, Craig Waibel, Stu Holden—so many good players that you knew you were up for a fight against them and it was special game. They were a very successful team so to get any positive result against them was very meaningful.”
“I remember one, the best one, we won 4-1 in their field over there,” Luccin said. “We played a great game over there. I had an opportunity to play a little bit after my injury and it was an amazing moment. After the game in the locker room, trust me, it was an amazing moment too."
“When I scored the goal,” Michel said. “I think it was my second one in Houston when I scored the penalty kick. It was very special for me.”
Is there added importance to Sunday’s game since FC Dallas is just one place ahead of Houston in the Western Conference?
“Being so close to playoffs, it can already feel like playoffs,” Cooper said. “The games are so important, the points are so important. I think it’s great to be in that mode going into playoffs, so it’s obviously a very important game and a very important time for all the teams in the league. I’m excited for it, being on this side of the game now, supporting, it’s an exciting time to watch games.
Are you going to be at the game on Sunday?
Cooper: “I’m planning on it!”