Sports

The Verde Report: Austin FC Needs Copa Tejas Now More Than Ever

It’s been six months without a win. Can ATXFC reverse their luck against FC Dallas?


Austin FC players prepare for a match against Orlando City SC (Courtesy of Austin FC)

Things are beginning to get dire in the House of Verde. After hanging tough against three of last season’s MLS pacesetters to the tune of three consecutive draws, Austin FC looked completely non-competitive in a dismal 2-0 loss at Orlando City last Saturday.

Against an Orlando team also searching for its first win of the season and missing seven players (four starters) due to international duty, El Tree mustered just a single shot on target – one which, according to MLSSoccer.com, would have resulted in a goal just 2% of the time.

Orlando, on the other hand, peppered Brad Stuver’s goal to the tune of 21 shots, seven of which were on target. Jack Lynn with a back-post header in the 42nd minute and Nico Lodeiro with a spectacular free kick in the 64th proved more than enough to comfortably outlast Austin FC and bring a new batch of Verde fans under the increasingly crowded #WolffOut tent.

“There’s room for improvement from everyone,” head coach Josh Wolff said. “As players, there’s much to improve on. I think there were ideas that we didn’t execute well. And obviously, that’s my responsibility as a coach to bring them in the space and put them in a position to succeed. I don’t think we executed particularly well tonight. So, I mean, we share in the blame.”

By the time ATXFC kicks off again at Q2 Stadium Saturday night, it will have been close to six months and eight matches dating back to 2023 since the club’s last victory. Fortunately for Wolff and Co., the opponent is a familiar one. FC Dallas rides south from Frisco to take on the Verde and Black in the opening game of the 2024 Copa Tejas campaign.

Copa Tejas has held a strange place in Austin FC lore since the club debuted in 2021. Depending on how you rate a fan-created trophy that only includes three clubs in the state of Texas, it’s either the first (and second) trophy ever hoisted by ATXFC or a glorified consolation prize annually doled out to the least-bad of three clubs that flounder more often than they thrive.

But these days, Austin FC really can’t be picky. And historically speaking, Copa Tejas has meant good things for the Verde and Black. The club finished one win away from lifting the inaugural MLS edition of Copa Tejas in 2021, then finished atop the three-team table in both 2022 and 2023. Seven of the club’s 35 all-time MLS wins (20%) have come against either FC Dallas or the Houston Dynamo.

This version of FC Dallas is especially gettable, too. FCD sits equal with Austin FC in points, goals scored and goals conceded (granted having played one fewer match), and has been absolutely decimated by injuries. While ATXFC recently got star player Sebastián Driussi back into the starting XI, Dallas has been without key players Alan Velasco, Asier Illarramendi, and Paxton Pomykal, among others.

Driussi and his teammates understand this is an opportunity they absolutely must capitalize on.

“For us, it’s frustrating to not be able to win,” Driussi said. “It’s a long run without being able to get a win, and the truth is that it feels very difficult. But Saturday we return home, we can play a derby. I think it’s going to be a very important game for us to reach a victory, which is what we most want.”

Austin FC plays FC Dallas at home on Saturday, March 30, 7:30pm.


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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Austin FC, The Verde Report, FC Dallas, Copa Tejas, Sebastian Driussi

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