A view of the El Capitán cannon before the match between FC Dallas and the Chicago Fire at Toyota Stadium. (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)
Rivalries are one of the coolest features of any sports league. Ohio State-Michigan, St. Louis Cardinals-Chicago Cubs, Everton-Liverpool. All are incredible experiences to be behold, but one thing they all lack is the symbolic trophy that travels from one city to another. Rivalries with trophies give even more character and story to an already great matchup. Houston Dynamo-FC Dallas is one of those rivalries. El Capitán is one of those trophies.
FC Dallas made the journey to South Texas attempting to keep the cannon and knock off the Dynamo. Twenty times before they have battled on an MLS sanctioned pitch; Houston winning 9 of those, and drawing 7 times.
After a 1-1 first half the game took a violent swing in Dallas’ favor when Houston center back David Horst was red carded for a 60th minute sliding tackle on Fabian Castillo. It didn’t take long for Dallas to capitalize on this overmanned advantage. Off the free kick from the resulting red card penalty, Michel sent in a perfect ball that bounced of the noggin of midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson and into the net. They never looked back.
Houston’s Giles Barnes tried to make a clearance attempt in the 68th minute, but instead found himself scoring a goal, although he really can’t have any pride in it. Own goals suck. Another goal by Watson in the 70th and the Dynamo played the last few minutes with their heads down, knowing that El Capitán would remain with Dallas for the second year in a row. Final score: 4-1, Dallas.
Back in the day (4 years ago) Houston and Dallas played more often, so the trophy was awarded to the winner of all their regular season matches. Now they play one game, and the winner takes home all the Texas-sized pride. FC Dallas have already accomplished in the first four weeks of the season — a cannon and the pole position of the entire league — but it’s a long season and there’s still plenty that can happen. Right now though, they are the best team in the league and that’s the best possible way to start.
Houston has now lost two in a row after starting with two wins. They will travel to Massachusetts in attempt to relive their opening weekend game against the Revolution. Dallas will stay home and fight off the Seattle Sounders.