Dallas, undefeated in their last three matches, travel to BBVA Compass Stadium for Saturday's Texas Derby in Gonzalez’s first taste of the rivalry at the professional level (4 pm ET | Univision, Twitter — Full TV & streaming info).
"I've had the pleasure to coach against the Dynamo, who knows, maybe 40 times," Gonzalez told MLSsoccer.com. "It's an honor to do that at the senior level and represent the club at this level. We're looking forward to it. This is important for all of us."
While the 38-year-old enjoyed a high win percentage against the in-state foe in U.S. Soccer Development Academy play, Gonzalez is well aware that Wilmer Cabrera's side will offer a sterner test. They’re one point apart in the Western Conference standings, though FCD have two games in hand.
"They have players with pace who can hurt you on the counter, in the transition,” Gonzalez said. “Defensively they've shown that they're organized, they're sound. It's a team that's playing a very complete game. It's a great challenge to analyze that and find a way to hurt that."
Houston have made a strong start to the season and will be in pursuit of their first Texas Derby win since beating Dallas 5-0 at BBVA Compass Stadium in March 2016. For now, "El Capitan" belongs to Dallas.
The form of Alberth Elis will be crucial for the Dynamo, having recorded four goals and four assists in his last five games. La Naranja can also count on his Honduran compatriot Maynor Figueroa, who is set to become the 11th player to represent both teams in the Texas Derby after his winter move down I-45.
Past players and El Capitan aside, Gonzalez doesn't have to go to great lengths to encourage his players, with Homegrown Players Reggie Cannon, Edwin Cerrillo and Jesus Ferreira among those who know the cities well.
"There's always been a huge rivalry between Houston and Dallas," said Cannon. "Coming up through the academy, it's pretty apparent that if you lost that game they would leave on the bus cheering and everything. It was always a sense of urgency playing Houston. You want to be the dominant team in Texas and those are the two top teams."
While the FCD roster has a firm Texan foundation, Gonzalez doesn't worry about the significance of the rivalry being lost on those from elsewhere.
"You've got a locker room with Homegrown Players that have been very proud to represent FC Dallas against Houston Dynamo at the academy level," said Gonzalez. "I think it's great motivation. The players know, both the Homegrown Players and those that weren't from our academy. They played in different places and understand the importance of a rivalry. I think there's a few factors that will incentivize the boys."