The last time the Dallas Texans played their under-15/16 Texas Division rival FC Dallas was a little more than two months ago on Oct. 8.
It was a game they escaped with a 3-2 victory.
Not only is FC Dallas the Dallas Texans' next opponent in U.S. Soccer Development Academy action, but it is currently the division second-place team behind the Texans.
"We actually played well, getting on top 3-1, but then they scored to make it 3-2 and they actually made it difficult in the end to hang on," said coach David Hudgell, whose Texans are 7-0-2 in the division and 9-0-5 overall. "I think that we're going to have to play better than what we did in the first time, because, again, I expect it to be a very, very tough game this next time."
Their meeting is not until Jan. 14, but Texans defender Jared Rice already is gearing up for what he expects will be a nailbiter.
"The first time we played them, we did really well defensively early on," Rice said. "We also had some offensive opportunities that we were able to put away."
The Texans boast center midfielder Brandon Aubrey as well as forwards Christian Soldat and Jason Machado with eight, six, and five goals, respectively, followed by three goals each from forward Christian Ramirez and defensive midfielder Brandon Moore.
Forward Thomas Parides has scored twice, with one goal each from center midfielder Ivan Alvarado and forward Adrian Velasquez.
"Offensively, we can interchange change our forwards pretty well, and they all have the pace to get behind people and they play their positions pretty comfortably," Hudgell said. "We're really a team that can maintain possession pretty well, but to be fair, in the games at times in our conference, it's a little bit faster-paced."
FC Dallas (4-3-3, 5-4-4) is led by Zachary Dunbar, Abdulraham Yassine and Aaron Meyer, with six, five, and, four goals, respectively, among its 12 capable scorers.
"I would definitely say that we're tactically better than we were the first time we played them, but they will bring a very, very strong offense against us," Rice said. "Near the end, they were really coming right down our throats."
That was the case the first time the local rivals met, during which Aubrey and FC Dallas' Milton Rosales swapped goals in the 29th and 38th minutes for a 1-1 halftime tie.
Consecutive scores by Soldat and Ramirez in the 62nd and 78th minute staked the Texans to their 3-1 advantage before Dunbar came through in the 80th to make it a one-goal game.
"On the positive side, we showed that we can win games and get through tough situations with our defense," Rice said. "But negatively, we should have put them away earlier and shouldn't have had to worry about fighting until the last second."
Next month, Rice and defender Jordan Speed will be the keys in front of goalies Hunter Harrison and John Melito, a testament to the duo's combinations of size, speed and skills.
"Jared and Jordan are two solid defensive backs. They're both relatively tall boys who are very, very good in the air," said Hudgell. "They're able to play with their feet as well, so quite a bit of the plays develop from them out of the back."
It will be as a team that the Texans will need to concentrate on maintaining possession throughout the game against FC Dallas, this time, taking it right up to the final whistle.
"We have to go into this game and every game from here on out thinking that we're in a must-win situation, and that we can't go easy in the game at all," Rice said. "I think that our defense has become very good, so we'll see if we can stop them. Either way, it will be a good game, so we're going to have to stay focused."