Extra pressure colors late-season Texas Derby

The latest edition of the Texas Derby carries bragging rights and playoff implications when FC Dallas hosts the Houston Dynamo on Saturday afternoon in Frisco, Texas. The Dynamo (4-8-9, 21 points) enter the game under the Western Conference playoff line and desperate for a victory. Houston has struggled to a 1-6-5 record over the past 12 games, including a 2-1 loss at Los Angeles FC on Wednesday that saw the Dynamo get outshot by a 28-9 margin. Despite playing with only 10 men for the final 31 minutes, the Dynamo left Wednesday's contest feeling the game was for the taking. Striker Mauro Manotas missed a first-half penalty kick, and the Dynamo were almost awarded another penalty kick in the closing minutes before a video review reversed the call. "I think that was another effort wasted," Houston coach Tab Ramos said. "I don't think we've played as well as we've been playing, but (Los Angeles) is a difficult place to play in, against a great team. It was a great effort, but we just couldn't do it. It's disappointing." After receiving a red card against LAFC, Houston midfielder Matias Vera will miss Saturday's game. Adam Lundkvist is available for selection after serving a two-game suspension. FC Dallas (7-5-7, 28 points) are in sixth place in the Western Conference, and they took a big step toward clinching a postseason spot with a 2-1 win over visiting Inter Miami on Wednesday. Though Dallas' position in the standings is relatively stable, the Thursday announcement that MLS will use points per game to determine playoff qualification only increases the late-season tension for head coach Luchi Gonzalez. "That means each game in front of you is huge," Gonzalez said. "You don't know if it's your last game of the season or not based on your own team and the other team. That's why we have to think now, today, rather than tomorrow." FC Dallas defender Reto Ziegler, whose wife recently came in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, is questionable for Saturday. The Dynamo and FC Dallas are an even 12-12-14 over 38 all-time regular season games. The close nature of the Texas Derby rivalry has extended into 2020, as Houston and Dallas are 1-1-1 in three previous meetings this season. --Field Level Media

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