After defeating one of its Texas rivals in Houston Dynamo FC on Sunday, Austin FC is set for its final match of the season against a fellow Texan club as the Verde & Black make the short trip north to face FC Dallas on Saturday night.
Dallas claimed wins in each of the sides’ two previous meetings, earning a 2-0 victory at Toyota Stadium on August 7 and 5-3 result at Q2 Stadium on August 29. But ATXFC can erase the memory of both of those defeats this weekend with a win, which would see the Club claim Copa Tejas, a supporter-awarded trophy given to the team with the most points from intra-Texas matchups in a season.
Austin FC Outlook
The Verde & Black picked up a third win in their last four home games by beating Houston on Sunday afternoon, with an effective team display that saw ATXFC score twice while limiting the Dynamo to only a handful of quality chances.
While Austin’s first goal was fortuitous, Sebastián Driussi’s finish for the team’s second goal showed every bit of the Argentine’s class on the ball. Head Coach Josh Wolff sung the summer signing’s praises after the match.
“He has exceptional quality, exceptional leadership whether it’s vocal or not vocal. By the way he plays, it’s very clear the type of player he is, and the responsibility and the intentions he plays with. His quality with the ball is exceptional,” said Wolff of Driussi.
“You can see what he does for this team. When good things are happening, he usually has some contact with it.”
In the 13 matches Driussi has started since arriving in late July, Austin has averaged 1.38 goals per match, up significantly from the 0.72 goals per match the team averaged in its other 18 matches this season. His arrival, along with that of striker Moussa Djitté, has allowed players like Cecilio Domínguez, Tomás Pochettino and Diego Fagundez more freedom to operate in their preferred positions.
With five days of rest between the Houston and Dallas matches, expect to see that group fit and firing in search of a big three points on the road.
FC Dallas Outlook
Dallas enters Saturday’s contest on a 10-match winless run, picking up just four points during that stretch. ATXFC sits one point behind its rivals with a game in hand, adding another layer of motivation for both Clubs this weekend.
Dallas has won only six games this season, but two of those came against the Verde & Black. If Austin hopes to change its fortunes this time around, the key to doing so will be stopping Dallas’ dynamic duo of Ricardo Pepi and Jesús Ferreira, both of whom scored twice the last time the Clubs met.
Between Pepi’s 13 goals and three assists and Ferreira’s seven goals and eight assists, the pair have contributed to 31 of Dallas’ 44 goals on the season. But while the FCD attack has looked dangerous, its defense has been generous. Dallas’ 54 goals conceded are the most of any side in the MLS Western Conference.
If ATXFC can contain Pepi and Ferreira and put the Dallas backline under constant pressure, the Club will have every chance of claiming Copa Tejas and leapfrogging its rivals in the standings.
Probable FC Dallas Lineup
(4-2-3-1, R-L) - GK: Jimmy Maurer; Ema Twumasi, Nkosi Tafari, Matt Hedges, Ryan Hollingshead; Brandon Servania, Edwin Cerrillo; Jáder Obrian, Jesús Ferreira, Paxton Pomykal; Ricardo Pepi