Sunday offers Austin FC a big chance to bounce back, as the Verde & Black return to Q2 Stadium to host Texas rivals Houston Dynamo FC in the penultimate home match of the Club’s inaugural season.
Austin and Houston have met twice already this year. ATXFC defeated the Dynamo 3-2 at Q2 Stadium on August 4 thanks to a pair of goals from Tomás Pochettino and another from Cecilio Domínguez. Houston claimed a home win of its own on September 11 though, beating the Verde & Black 3-0. Sunday afternoon’s matchup will decide the season series between the Texas rivals.
Austin FC Outlook
ATXFC will be eager to put Wednesday night’s 4-0 defeat to the San Jose Earthquakes in the rearview mirror as quickly as possible, and a win in a rivalry match is a great way to do so. Austin can’t reach the postseason this year, but it can still achieve something meaningful. With wins over Houston on Sunday and FC Dallas next Saturday, ATXFC would finish with the most points from intra-Texas matches of any of the three Texas clubs this season.
A victory over the Dynamo would also close the gap between the two clubs in the table to two points, with the Verde & Black having played one fewer match. Coming off of another busy week in which 10 of the same 11 players started against both Minnesota last Saturday and San Jose on Wednesday, expect to see some fresh faces getting a chance to impress in the ATXFC lineup on Sunday.
Last time out against Houston at home was one of Austin FC’s best performances of the year, especially from Pochettino. The scoreline was close, but the match was largely controlled by Josh Wolff’s side. ATXFC recorded 67 percent possession, 12 chances created to Houston’s five, and completed 490 passes to the Dynamo’s 196.
In addition to dominating the ball though, the Club finished at an efficient rate, scoring three goals from five shots on target. Finishing was the one missing ingredient in ATXFC’s last home game against Minnesota, and Wolff will be hoping his team can replicate the clinical nature it showed in the previous match against Houston at Q2 Stadium.
Houston Dynamo FC Outlook
Like Austin, Houston is mathematically out of playoff contention, but is still treating its remaining matches as valuable chances to build toward 2022. Look no further than the Dynamo’s 2-1 win over Western Conference leaders Seattle Sounders FC last weekend as evidence that the team is motivated to get results down the stretch.
Houston enters Sunday off the back of a 3-0 home loss to the LA Galaxy though, and has won just once in its last five matches overall. The team’s preferred front three of Fafa Picault, Maximiliano Urruti, and Darwin Quintero shoulder the brunt of the Dynamo’s scoring load, combining for 21 of the squad’s 35 goals this season. In its last eight matches, that trio is responsible for 9 of the team’s 11 goals. Picault scored twice in Houston’s last meeting with Austin, and with plenty of MLS experience between the three, ATXFC will be looking to keep the ball off their feet.
ATXFC fans can take heart from the Dynamo’s woeful away record - Houston is the only team in MLS which has not won a match on the road this season.
Probable Houston Dynamo FC Lineup
(3-4-1-2, R-L) GK: Michael Nelson; Zarek Valentin, Tim Parker, Teenage Hadebe; Griffin Dorsey, Matías Vera, Darwin Cerén, Sam Junqua; Darwin Quintero; Maximiliano Urruti, Fafa Picault