MLS Preview-Week 13

The Week 12 Texas MLS schedule is highlighted by the first iteration of the 2017 Texas Derby, when Houston travels to play Dallas on Sunday.

Chicago Fire vs. FC Dallas

Toyota Park – Bridgeview, Ill.-7:30 p.m. CDT, Thursday, May 25, 2017

Record and Standings:

Chicago Fire:  6-3-3-21 points (Second place in Eastern Conference)  Home:  5-0-1

FC Dallas:  5-1-4-19 points (Tied for second place in Western Conference)  Away: 2-0-2

  • This is the 41st time the Fire and FCD have met all-time.  Dallas is on top of the rivalry (21-15-4), though Chicago has won 11 of the 21 games played at home.  This game also marks the 17th time the teams will compete for the Brimstone Cup, a trophy awarded to the yearly winner of the rivalry between the Fire and FCD. The Cup is awarded by the Brimstone Cup Committee to the team with the most points in games played between the two, including MLS Playoff and US Open Cup games. Dallas has held the Cup for eleven of the years and Chicago five.  According to the Wikipedia entry, the cup was created during the 2001 season by the supporters’ groups of both clubs. Its name came from a reference of the names of the two teams at the time, as FC Dallas was then known as the Dallas Burn. The name is reflected with a quote from Virgil’s Aeneid engraved on the base: “The more the kindled combat rises high’r, The more with fury burns the blazing fire.” The video below from FC Dallas supporters, explains the rivalry in greater detail.
  • Chicago Fire has been the revelation of the league this year so far.  After finishing dead last in the league last year, off-season signings, led by league goal scoring leader (10 in 12 games) Nemanja Nikolic, has rapidly vaulted the Fire up the table.  Add in former New York Red Bull Dax McCarty, who has locked down the holding midfielder slot, and German legend Bastian Schweinsteiger, and it demonstrates how quickly poor form can be turned around with the right signings and trades. Starting goalkeeper Matt Lampson, who has posted two consecutive shutouts, points to the new additions as the difference in an article by Dan Santaromita @TheDanSanto on CSN Chicago’s website:

“This is something special,” Lampson said. “That just proves that guys like Juninho, Dax (McCarty) and Bastian (Schweinsteiger) coming in, the culture has completely changed and we have guys who will do anything to win. When you have every guy on the team that’s like that, then you’re going to get results, you’re going to have confidence when you play well and everybody on the field is going to play for each other.”

  • FCD will be looking to regain momentum after suffering their first loss of the season last weekend.  Despite objections to the contrary by the team, FCD seems to have hit a bit of a lull, which is not surprising given the intense early season schedule.  It would help enormously if touted off-season signings Cristian Colman and Roland Lamah got on track and began to produce to expectations.  Both are in danger of falling out of the regular rotation, given the lack of performance to this point.

FC Dallas (FCD) vs. Houston Dynamo

Toyota Stadium-Frisco-7:00 p.m., Sunday, May 28, 2017

Record and Standings:

FC Dallas:  5-1-4-19 points (Tied for second in West)  Home:  3-1-2

Houston Dynamo:  6-5-1-19 points (Tied for second in West)  Road:  0-5-0

  • The Dynamo will travel to Dallas hoping to get a road result of any kind. It is quite remarkable that they remain tied for second place, despite being the only team who has been unable to secure any road points in MLS this season.  FCD is not an easy place to secure the first away result.  Despite the loss to San Jose last weekend, Dallas is virtually unbeatable at home, especially when scoring the first goal…..something the Dynamo have allowed routinely this year.
  • The Brimstone Cup is one thing.  The rivalry between FCD and Houston for the rights to El Capitan is something else.  AJ DeLaGarza, who joined the Dynamo from Los Angeles threw an additional coal on the fire when he posted this Tweet, referring to the stars that were added everywhere but above the crest in the design of the new FCD jersey, after his arrival in February.

  • Nevertheless, he has enough recent experience playing FC Dallas to have a healthy level of respect for FCD as shown in this quote from an article by Corey Roepken ‎@RipSports in the Houston Chronicle

“They’re the best team in the league the last couple years,” DeLaGarza said. “I know that and everyone around here knows that. But we have a team that we think can beat them. I am excited about this match and I expect a good one.”

  • Houston has one piece of good news as head coach Wilmer Cabrera has said that high-scoring winger Alberth Elis will be available for selection this weekend.
  • This will be the first of three regular season meetings between the Dynamo and FCD this season.  FCD travels to Houston on June 23 and the Dynamo return to Dallas on August 23.

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