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Texas teams go at it again in Houston
The battle for the Lone Star State between the Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas will be rejoined Friday when the MLS teams square off in the second leg of the Texas Derby at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
The Dynamo (7-6-3) and FC Dallas (6-3-6) are tied with Portland for second place in the Western Conference with 24 points (three behind Sporting Kansas City), but Dallas has played one less game and its 1.6 points per game is best in the conference.
The two sides settled for a scoreless draw on May 28 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco in the first edition of the Derby in 2017. It was a match in which both homegrown goalkeepers put on a show to keep the game scoreless.
FC Dallas keeper Jesse Gonzalez made two saves to keep Houston off the board but was one-upped by the Dynamo's Tyler Deric, who had three stops, including a highlight-reel, full-stretch save on a Kellyn Acosta free kick that almost dipped under the bar to break the deadlock.
Houston defender Adolfo Machado said he is looking forward to the second leg of the Texas Derby.
"The first game on the road was a demanding one -- it was challenging," Machado said. "We've worked very well and we hope to get the three points at home on Friday by bringing the same drive we've had in previous games."
FC Dallas has owned the Dynamo the past four seasons, forging a 6-1-2 mark against Houston. The sides have had the exact same run of mediocre results in the last six matches with a 1-3-2 record, and both enter Friday off draws on the road last Saturday.
After a 1-1 draw against Vancouver in its most recent outing, FC Dallas can take the season series lead against Houston with a win.
"We have been taking things one match at a time," FC Dallas coach Oscar Pareja said. "Now we have to face Houston in the Derby and it's an important match for our club and the position we are in the league right now. We are preparing the team mentally and physically and the boys are good and rested and ready for the match."
FC Dallas will be playing its third match in a row on the road and knows how tough it will be to defeat Houston despite its long run of overall success against its rivals from the Bayou City.
"We just came off a result where we got a point on the road, but we feel like we could have, and should have, got the three points," Acosta said. "The game Friday is important because we are trying to get back to our winning ways. We have a chance to bounce back and we are looking forward to getting back out there.
"Houston is very dangerous and we need to just keep a hold of them, keep them off track and limit their touches. We need to force them to play the way we play rather than trying to adapt to what they are doing."
Houston will play just their second match at home since early May, and the Dynamo are unbeaten (7-0-1) in 2017 at home. FC Dallas has not necessarily struggled on the road this season, but it will be looking to build on a 2-2-3 road record.
Dynamo coach Wilmer Cabrera likes how his team has been performing lately.
"I like the mentality, I like the approaches to the game, the way we are playing and I like that we are not making excuses," Cabrera said. "We are trying to get better, we know that we can get better and we are working on that every week and every day."
Updated June 22, 2017