HOUSTON – The Texas rivalry between the Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas is an intense one. How intense? Just look what's on the line: Every year they play for the right to hold on to El Capitán, a Civil-War era cannon.
But with Houston and Dallas currently playing in different conferences, it means the Texas Derby is now only played once a year. That could very well change when expansion teams New York City FC and Orlando City join the East in 2015, which many expect will lead the Houston Dynamo to shift over to the Western Conference.
Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall would look favorably on that move, since it would mean three regular season matches against FC Dallas, rather than the lone meeting in 2014.
“Do I want the rivalry to last three games? Yeah, I definitely do,” goalkeeper Hall told MLSsoccer.com ahead of Saturday's match at BBVA Compass Stadium (8 pm ET, MLS Free Stream of the Week). “I enjoy the rivalry aspect of it. It’s good for the game, for both Dallas and Houston.
"For the players, it’s all about three points at the weekend, but you can’t help but to hear and feel it,” Hall continued. “I’d be excited to play them three times and I’d be excited to beat them three times.”
Saturday's latest match may be just one of 34 on the season, but it still has more meaning to Houston's players than most others regular season games.
“It is a long season and it’s nice to have moments here and there that do mean something more,” Hall said. “I think as players we try to downplay it a little bit as a rivalry, but if I’m going to tell you the truth, I enjoyed when we had El Capitan and had that [cannon] in the tunnel.
“When you step outside, I enjoy having the rivalry,” Hall continued. “I enjoy the storylines, not just here but around the league. I think it's fun.”
Houston and Dallas are the definition of local rivals. The cities are separated by less than 250 miles, and their fan bases and citizens have a healthy rivalry in many aspects of life. That showed in Houston’s early years, when the clubs were in the same conference and played each other regularly, including an amazing six times in 2007.
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However, the Dynamo moving to the East has trimmed that schedule and predictably taken some of the sting out of a game.
Still, playing Dallas and all that entails still carries more weight for the Dynamo.
“When you see the fans getting into it and the rivalry there it adds to the element of the game and it makes it more fun,” said Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark. “At the end of the day, it’s a rivalry yes and we want to win the game, but we want to win every game. The fans get into it and there’s the whole atmosphere there and you get into it and it helps with the edge a little bit.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.