As Major League Soccer’s lone two clubs in the Lone Star State for 15 years, FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo FC are no strangers to matches against one another. But the arrival of Austin FC and its supporters groups in 2021 has added another dimension to Texas soccer rivalries.

This season, Austin or Dallas will lift the inaugural MLS edition of the fan-created Copa Tejas, awarded to the Club with the most points from intra-Texas matches. Ahead of Saturday’s decisive clash at Toyota Stadium, here’s what to know about this new piece of hardware up for grabs.

What is Copa Tejas?

Created in 2019 by Steve Arters and Danielle Gawronski as a prize up for grabs among the four USL Championship clubs in Texas, supporters will award a Copa Tejas to an MLS club for the first time this season after the addition of Austin FC gave the league three teams in the Lone Star State. The MLS version of the trophy was born out of a joint fundraising campaign among supporters groups from all three clubs: Los Verdes, Austin Anthem, La Murga, and La Cinco 12 in Austin; Texian Army, Bandera Negra, and The Surge in Houston; and Dallas Beer Guardians and El Matador in Dallas.

What's at stake on Saturday?

The math is simple for both Austin FC and FC Dallas on Saturday. Austin must win to claim Copa Tejas, while Dallas would lift the trophy with a win or a draw. ATXFC’s victory over Houston last Sunday ensured the Dynamo could not take the prize this season, and raised ATXFC’s points gained from intra-Texas matches this season to six.

Dallas sits on eight points from intra-Texas matches, having recorded two wins against the Verde & Black alongside a loss and two draws in three matches against Houston this season.

The three Texas clubs are also close to each other in the MLS Western Conference standings. Houston narrowly leads the group on 30 points to Dallas’ 29 and Austin’s 28, but both Dallas and Austin have a game in hand on the Dynamo with only a few matches remaining for each.

What does it mean?

For fans of the Texan trio, Copa Tejas is not only a chance to earn bragging rights against their rivals, but also to show respect for each other and celebrate soccer in the state. Look no further than the last time Austin FC traveled to take on FC Dallas on August 7, when almost a thousand Verde & Black supporters bussed up I-35 and brought a bit of Q2 Stadium’s atmosphere to Dallas.

Copa Tejas is meaningful for the players and staff at the Club as well, as Austin FC Head Coach Josh Wolff and midfielder Daniel Pereira pointed out after Sunday’s win over Houston.

“Anytime you’re playing for a trophy, it’s a great opportunity,” said Wolff. “Copa Tejas has been talked about, and now we’re in a position to go win it.

“We certainly should have plenty of reminders as to what it’s going to look like in Dallas. They’re a good team. Enjoy tonight, but be fully committed, fully focused on how we can go there and win. That’s going to be our objective, for our players to keep building momentum and good performance, but for our fans, to bring a trophy here in our first season.”

“Every hardware we take seriously,” Pereira added. “We’d like to win that for the fans so they have bragging rights. It hasn’t been the best season, so that’s the least we can do for the fans who have been with us through the ups and downs. Copa Tejas is now the focus.”