In addition to the bragging rights at stake in the rivalry match, both teams have a chance to improve their postseason chances significantly. With a win, Dallas book a spot in the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, while a win for the Dynamo keeps their playoff hopes alive and a loss would mathematically eliminate them. That gives both plenty to play for on Saturday, and both head coaches recognize the stakes.
"Dallas is in good position for the playoffs, so they are probably feeling good about their team and what they are doing," Dynamo head coach Tab Ramos said before the game. "They have had some good signings that have helped them a lot to get them over the hump."
For FCD's Luchi Gonzalez, the game is an opportunity to make the playoffs, but also a chance to rectify things after Houston won the teams' last meeting 2-0 at the beginning of the month.
Highlights: Houston Dynamo 2, FC Dallas 0 (Oct. 7)
"I don’t think it gets old, playing Houston, especially when we lost to them last in Houston, so I welcome this game," Gonzalez said. "I liked a lot of the things we did. I thought we played well in a lot of aspects of the game, but didn’t put away chances and they put away theirs, so I’m looking forward to this opportunity against them and I think there’s a double value with playing the Clasico, playing our derby rival and also having the opportunity to qualify."
For the Dynamo, the game is also a chance to snap a bad run of form. The team has not won since beating Dallas on October 7, and they are now on a five-match winless run. They will need to close the gap on 8th-place Colorado Rapids to make the playoffs, who have a points per game of 1.27 compared to the Dynamo's 1, making it essentially the team's last chance to have a shot at the postseason.
"We find ourselves in a different situation, but we are motivated and happy to tackle the next challenge," Dynamo forward Mauro Manotas said. "Unfortunately, we don’t have the results we have been working toward, but the effort is there, and we are leaving everything we have on the field. Our goal is to turn things around and get a positive result on Saturday."
Though Dallas may have the upper hand, Gonzalez knows a team with a fighting chance means his side cannot be too comfortable.
"Full respect for Houston," Gonzalez said. "That’s a team that’s still alive. That’s a team that’s still fighting to be in the playoffs. So we’ve got a big game that we’re excited for and that’s the only focus."