It’s all still there for Austin FC in their inaugural season.
There’s been ups-and-downs throughout the season so far, of course -- as there is with any expansion side -- but there’s little doubt among the group that it’s all still there for the taking over the final 14 matches of the season.
“I said from the start, there’s going to be obvious growing pains with how this league is set up. The salary cap and all that,” said Austin captain Alex Ring on Thursday during a press conference. “Are we disappointed at some results in games? Yes, for sure. But in this league, it’s all about momentum. You see it every year, if you make the playoffs anything’s possible. We just got to stay humble, work hard and keep winning games.”
The season started brightly with wins on the road in Colorado and Minnesota, but a grueling eight-match road stretch to start the year provided the first-year team with some unique challenges. The squad bounced back though and delivered some big wins at home against Portland and Houston, along with another win at Q2 Stadium vs. Portland just this past week.
ATXFC midfielder Daniel Pereira -- the team’s No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 SuperDraft -- pointed at how a core group of veterans has been able to keep the team focused throughout the year.
“Being aware of everything that’s going on. Being aware of what the other team is doing in the game. Outside of soccer, just how focused they are when it comes to gamedays and training. There’s no joking around, they’re very focused. Alex, [Sebastian] Driussi, Cecilio [Dominguez], Diego [Fagundez] -- they are guys that are straight to the point and they are also amazing people.”
Of course the match on Sunday isn’t just like any other regular season match.
FC Dallas comes to town for the first time in what promises to be an intense rivalry match. Austin will be looking for revenge after losing 2-0 at Dallas earlier this month. The big difference for this match being that it will be at Q2 Stadium, not in Frisco.
“I think these games look and feel far different at our stadium because of our fans, because of the intensity, because of the intrigue and the energy that they give us and that they bring naturally to the stadium,” said Austin head coach Josh Wolff on Tuesday.
A win for Austin would push the Verde & Black above FCD in the Western Conference standings. After that, anything is possible as the team could sit just four points out of a playoff spot after the weekend.
“We’ve always said that if you win three or four in a row in this league -- you go from out of the playoffs to in the playoffs, from sixth or seventh to first or second.”