Houston-San Jose rivalry still provokes strong emotions

Houston-San Jose

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HOUSTON — Rivalries prosper for a number of reasons, but the best provocation is respect.

It’s been six years since the Houston Dynamo left San Jose for Southeast Texas, but the feelings of admiration and respect are still there. Players and coaches who moved to Houston with the team hold a strong connection to the city they’ll visit with a matchup against the Quakes on Saturday (10 pm ET, Galavisión).

With the success they had in San Jose — winning MLS Cup in 2001 and 2003 — it’s hard for the players not to look back fondly on their time in San Jose.

“I’m looking forward to the game, but it was hard leaving [San Jose] and leaving all our accomplishments behind,” said Houston veteran Eddie Robinson, who spent the first five years of his career with San Jose before the team relocated for the 2006 season. “I’ve got a lot of respect for the people there, and especially [head coach Frank Yallop].

“But you put all that stuff aside when you get on the field,” he added. “It’ll be a hard-fought game.”

That was the general consensus among Dynamo players in camp this week. With similar styles, players facing their former teams, coaches with a strong familiarity, a hostile crowd and physical players on both clubs, it’s easy to see the reason for the expectations of another grueling rivalry matchup.

“It’s always a physical battle with San Jose,” said midfielder Danny Cruz, who is expected to be available for selection this weekend. “It’s always a hostile environment, but we’re real excited and looking forward to the challenge.”

With both teams looking to get on a roll, the Dynamo are looking to break back into the win column at their former home.

“They’ve been getting their results lately, making it hard for other teams to play against them,” said forward Cam Weaver, who was traded to Houston from San Jose in 2009 for Chris Wondolowski. “Personally, being traded away from San Jose it gives a little extra motivation to get a win, but I’m just going to keep going and help the team get a win.”

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.