The first meeting of the Texas Derby is over. Neither side was able to get a leg-up as it finished in a scoreless draw, but we did learn a few things.
Here are our takeaways:
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Mauro Diaz, the magician, is back
For the first time since October 2016, Mauro Diaz was back on the bench for FC Dallas and he came in as a late substitute. Diaz, the talismanic No. 10, had been key for FC Dallas being able to create scoring chances last season – but he was injured in the second-last match of the regular season last year, tearing his Achilles.
FC Dallas have done alright without him through the start of the 2017, thanks to the form of Kellyn Acosta going both directions in the central midfield, but lately they've struggled a bit to score goals. Whenever Diaz is back to his top form and starting, that should help quite a bit. Everything in the Dallas attack used to run through Diaz and a return to that will make everyone around him more effective.
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When the Dynamo can't use the flanks in transition, they tend to get stuck
The Houston Dynamo have a high-flying attack featuring Erick "Cubo" Torres, Alberth Elis and, on Sunday, Mauro Manotas. When the Dynamo can move the ball up the wide channels in quick counterattacks, they are fun to watch. The problem is, FC Dallas didn't let that happen.
FC Dallas did well to clog up the channels that the Dynamo like to use to push the Dynamo centrally. Then the Dynamo were running out of outlets and got stuck. It's not the first time we've seen the Dynamo neutralized when they don't have the space to launch their speedy counterattacks and it looks like the perfect blueprint for stopping a team that looked much scarier earlier in the season.
Houston struggled to hold possession and barely got any decent looks on goal, but they will be happy to leave Dallas with a point.
The goalkeepers were the stars of the night
What the Texas Derby lacked it goals it made up for in jaw-dropping saves. Tyler Deric made a massive one for the Houston Dynamo and then less than a minute later, it was Jesse Gonzalez's turn on the other end.
The match may have finished 0-0, but Deric recorded four saves while Gonzalez had two.
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Kellyn Acosta should never be used as a fullback again
There's no question that Kellyn Acosta has been the most important player for FC Dallas this season. He's had to do more playmaking in Mauro Diaz's absence and he's shown he can do it. While he tends to be a defensive-minded player, he's also very good at maintaining possession in transition and he has the vision to orchestrate the attack from the middle too. Just look at the gorgeous through-ball he slipped through on Sunday.
That makes it all the more head-scratching that Acosta has been used as a left back in the U.S. Soccer system for so long. It's not that Acosta wasn't capable of being an alright fullback, but it certainly was never the best use of his talents. He is probably the most in-form box-to-box midfielder the USMNT has available right now, and there's a good chance we'll see him play there under Bruce Arena soon.
This isn't about him not being a good fullback, it's about him being the best box-to-box midfielder in MLS.
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Can we talk about how cool El Capitan is?
While other rivalries in MLS offer more typical rewards, like trophies, the stakes in the Texas Derby may be the coolest in the league though: Dallas and Houston battle for control of an 18th century replica cannon called El Capitan. Whoever wins gets to take the cannon home, which surely is enough to give teams some extra motivation.
And the cannon works, too! You can see the cannon in a file photo here where Houston Dash striker Kealia Ohai fired it before a Dynamo match last year. Pretty cool.