FRISCO, Texas — The Texas Derby rivalry between FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo often features on-field altercations, hard tackles, passionate fans and close score lines.
But the battle for the cannon, El Capitán – which continues on Saturday (4 pm ET, TeleFutura) – took a different twist in late July, two months after the teams’ first meeting of the year produced a 2-2 draw at Robertson Stadium: player acquisitions.
FC Dallas had scouted midfielder Daniel Cruz while he was with Belgium’s Germinal Beerschot and placed him on their Discovery List, realizing that with his expiring contract, they might have a chance of acquiring the Colombian.
But first Cruz – with FC Dallas’ blessing – went on a six-day trial with the Dynamo.
“It was my first experience in the MLS, but I don’t want to talk much about that,” Cruz said of his brief time in Houston. “Since I got here, I have been very happy and I am happy to be here in Dallas. We are going to win tomorrow and do everything possible to get the three points.”
FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman provided more insight on the happenings that had two in-state rivals eyeing one player.
“They wanted him, to have a chance to look at him, so they contacted us and we said of course,” Hyndman said Friday morning at Pizza Hut Park. “And then right after that he was coming to us, so for us it was a good situation. They liked him but at the same time he might not have exactly been their fit.”
Since arriving in Dallas, Cruz has participated in five games, starting three and even scoring the earliest goal in FC Dallas history during CONCACAF Champions League play with his strike 27 seconds into their match with Tauro FC.
However, Cruz and FC Dallas currently find themselves in a rut offensively with no goals in their last 180 minutes of play.
“We have had chances — not counting CONCACAF [Champions League] — and the mentality is to score,” said Cruz. “You have to be more concentrated up top, in the defense, in the middle, and try to play together as a team.”
The load of offensive opportunities has eased Hyndman’s concerns as the team has at least shown the ability to get forward, but the FCD head man noted midfielder Brad Davis as a Dynamo player who may cause fits for his defense.
“He’s one of the players that we always have to been concerned about,” said Hyndman of Davis, who ranks second in the league with 13 assists on the 2011 campaign. “With Houston, you know they’re going to be strong on the set pieces. The reason for that is not only because they have aggressive, athletic, courageous players but they also have a player who can really serve a quality ball.”
And while the task is tall, if FC Dallas can stop Davis’ service and get Cruz and the rest of the attacking corps to finally register a goal, then El Capitán likely won’t be changing homes for at least another year.
Robert Casner covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com. Follow@robertmcasner