HOUvsATXPreview

Austin FC will look to extend the Club’s first-ever three-match winning streak in Major League Soccer on Saturday afternoon, when the Verde & Black head east for their opening Copa Tejas clash of the 2022 season against Houston Dynamo FC at PNC Stadium (kickoff at 12:30 p.m. CT).

Despite both teams finishing at the bottom of the Western Conference in 2021, each has been much improved so far this season. Saturday offers the opportunity for the Verde & Black to widen their five-point advantage over Houston in the table and to claim early season bragging rights.

Last year, the home side came out on top in all three meetings between the two clubs, with ATXFC earning a pair of victories at Q2 Stadium and the Dynamo winning the lone match in Houston. Austin defeated Houston 4-0 at PNC Stadium during preseason though, and will be aiming for a similar performance at the weekend.

Austin FC Outlook

Austin’s league form is fantastic at the moment. The Verde & Black are unbeaten in five matches and have won their last three, a run that sees the Club in second place in both the Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings.

After putting up three more goals in a dominant home victory over Vancouver last weekend, Austin is the league’s highest-scoring team with 20 through eight matches. Early goals are becoming something of an ATXFC specialty: the Club’s four goals scored in the opening 15 minutes of matches are the most of any MLS team.

After 2021’s road woes, the team also looks much better on its travels, picking up points in two of its three away matches so far. Head Coach Josh Wolff’s side are about to begin a stretch which will continue to test their ability to pick up points away from Q2 Stadium, with eight of the team’s next 11 games on the road. This weekend, they might have an ace up their sleeve in Maxi Urruti.

Urruti, who is coming off a two-goal performance against Vancouver which saw him named to the MLS Team of the Week, spent the 2021 season with the Dynamo. The Argentine striker will have added insight on the tendencies of many of Houston's top players.

Houston Dynamo FC Outlook

Houston let a late lead slip against FC Dallas last time out, losing 2-1 thanks to a pair of goals conceded after the 87th minute. But before that, the Dynamo had gone five matches without a loss, and currently sit seventh in the Western Conference with 12 points from eight matches.

Two new arrivals in particular have been key to Houston’s solid start: Head Coach Paulo Nagamura and striker Sebastian Ferreira. Nagamura is no stranger to success in American soccer, with two MLS Cups and three U.S. Open Cups to his name from his playing days. Ferreira joined in the offseason from Paraguayan side Libertad and has tallied three goals and an assist.

The driving force behind the Dynamo’s attack is still Darwin Quintero though, with four goals and an assist in only 473 minutes played. Case in point: Houston led 1-0 at halftime of its match against Dallas thanks to a Quintero-assisted goal, but he went off injured before the break.

In the second half, the Dynamo struggled to create chances, leaving the door open for Dallas to snatch the points late. Quintero is back in training and looks set to feature on Saturday, but whether he's on the pitch or not, the Verde & Black will need to be at their best to hand Houston its first home loss of the season.

Probable Houston Dynamo FC Lineup

(4-2-1-3, R-L) - GK: Steve Clark; Griffin Dorsey, Tim Parker, Teenage Hadebe, Adam Lundkvist; Matias Vera, Adalberto Carrasquilla; Darwin Quintero; Tyler Pasher, Sebastian Ferreira, Fafa Picault