This will be a week unlike any other in Texas soccer history.
On Wednesday night, Austin FC plays host to Houston Dynamo FC before the Verde & Black heads up to Frisco to take on FC Dallas on Saturday night. The two matches are the first between Austin FC and its counterparts in Dallas and Houston.
“Every team wants to make the playoffs, every team wants to win MLS Cup but the way I feel about the potential for this rivalry with all these three teams -- you don’t want to lose,” Mateo Clarke, a member of Los Verdes, told AustinFC.com on Tuesday.
While Wednesday night will be one all Austin supporters will be looking forward to, Saturday night promises to be something few would have expected to see just a few years ago. There is expected to be more than 600 Austin FC fans who will travel north on at least eight buses to invade Toyota Stadium.
It will be one of the largest displays of away support ever seen at Toyota Stadium or in the history of MLS in Texas. More than a few of those fans hail from one of the other cities that are taking part in this competition. Clarke, who was at the first Dallas Burn match in the Cotton Bowl, will be one of the many supporters that will take over a bar near Toyota Stadium and march to the match to show their pride in the Verde & Black.
“We have a lot of people who have come from Houston or Dallas, that have adopted Austin as home, and really want to shove it in the face of their former hometowns,” said Clarke.
The match on Wednesday night is sure to bring out the best in the Austin FC supporters as they get to experience something brand new -- rivalry intensity. Paired with the raucous environments already seen at Q2 Stadium, this first regular season meeting will make for an unforgettable introduction.
“It brings another element. It brings an on-field intensity as well as an off-field intensity,” Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff said during a Tuesday press conference. “Those things tend to merge and tend to spark and drive what the derbies can become. We hope the ones with Houston and Dallas are full of big moments.”
Houston and Dallas previously started off with a 1-1 draw back in May and those two Clubs aren’t unfamiliar to rivalry matches. They played in the Texas Derby every year from 2006-2020, competing for El Capitan. FC Dallas took home the cannon eight times -- including each of the last three years -- while Houston won it seven times.
All three Texas teams enter the week sitting below the playoff line, adding an extra layer of pressure to the matches. Austin is eight points out of a playoff spot while Houston and Dallas are three and four points respectively.
“There will certainly be a good intensity to both of these games. The fact that they’re back-to-back is also a really interesting one,” said Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff during a Tuesday press conference. “We got Houston and then we’re on the road to Dallas, where I know our fans will travel in big numbers, and it’s going to be an exciting week from that standpoint. All three of us are looking for points and are more on the outside looking in so there’s added fuel to the fire.”