FC Dallas is scared of Austin FC.
At least of the supporters in Verde and Black. So much so that FC Dallas announced that the Saturday night match against Austin FC in Frisco will be “Dallas Stars Night” to explain away the wave of verde heading into Toyota Stadium. Austin FC supporters are already building a reputation around Major League Soccer, and it started when more than 200 members of Austin Anthem and Los Verdes converged on Colorado in what became known as DenVerde.
That trip to Colorado, and another one to Nashville that included hundreds of Austin FC supporters, will pale in comparison with the herd heading from Austin to Frisco on Saturday night. It’ll be a nice change for Austin, a city that is used to a herd of outsiders filing into its suburbs. FC Dallas says there are close to 700 tickets sold in the away section of Toyota Stadium. Kate Ensign of Los Verdes says a caravan of roughly 650 supporters divided among eight charter buses will travel north, even stopping at Buc-ee’s on the way.
“We want to be known for our traveling culture and for ensuring our team feels supported on the road,” Ensign told the American-Statesman. “This week is a huge opportunity for us as our first road trip to an away game in Texas.”
A Copa Tejas win: Austin FC beats Houston Dynamo in first intra-state match
Soccer involves two simultaneous contests. There’s the match on the pitch, and there’s the competition in the stands to support the team. Austin FC might be in 12th place in the 13-team Western Conference behind intrastate rivals Houston Dynamo FC and FC Dallas, but the Oaks are undoubtedly moving toward the top of the standings in crowd support. Each of Austin FC’s seven home matches against MLS competition has been sold out with 20,500 screaming fans.
Impressing the entire league is nice. Embarrassing rivals is better. Austin FC can do just that Saturday by winning those simultaneous competitions against a club that was a founding member of MLS back in 1996 as the Dallas Burn. A new brand, and one of the best youth academies in North America, never took off in the Metroplex, which includes the Cowboys, Rangers, Mavericks and Stars.
Austin FC has no major league competition within its city. That’s allowed the club to unite the city, and Saturday allows that united front to show off at an opponent’s stadium in an even more impressive way than in Denver or Nashville.
“We have been working on this trip since May,” Seth Rau, the away travel coordinator for Austin Anthem, told the American-Statesman. “Once we saw how many people went to Denver, we know we wanted to plan a big trip. We want to show that we have the loudest supporters section in Texas.”
The match on the field is equally important for an Austin FC squad hoping to make a push toward a playoff position. A win over FC Dallas on Saturday would jump the Oaks ahead of both of its intrastate rivals in the Western Conference. New signing Sebastián Driussi, the club’s third designated player, is set to debut against FC Dallas, at least as a substitute.
Austin FC enters with momentum thanks to a 3-2 win over the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday fueled by Tomás Pochettino and Cecilio Domínguez, the club’s other two designated players. Even with the three-goal explosion, Austin FC still sits at the bottom of the Western Conference with 13 goals in 16 matches. Ten of those goals came in three matches.
“When we score one goal, you can see the confidence build, and then this team starts to click and play really well,” Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff said Thursday. “Seeing that ball go into the net has unlocked us, and we need to continue putting pressure on our opponents by executing our offense into goals.”
Austin FC at FC Dallas
Austin FC at FC Dallas, 7:30 p.m., Toyota Stadium, Frisco
TV/radio: The CW Austin (English) or Univision 62 (Spanish)/ALT 97.5 FM (English) or 104.3-HD2 (Spanish)
About the series: This is the first Texas derby between Austin FC and FC Dallas. Austin FC beat the Houston Dynamo 3-2 Wednesday night to secure the expansion franchise’s first win in Copa Tejas, a supporter-led race for a trophy between the three Major League Soccer clubs in Texas. … There are separate trophies given to winners of Copa Tejas in the United Soccer League and beyond, as well. … Austin FC and FC Dallas will play three times in the regular season.
About Austin FC: The win over Houston stopped a three-game skid for El Tree. The Verde and Black scored more than one goal in a match for the third time in 16 games. … Even with the offensive explosion against the Dynamo, Austin FC remains tied for the lowest goal total in MLS with 13. … The win did move Austin FC out of last place in the Western Conference. A victory over FC Dallas would allow the Oaks to jump Houston and Dallas in the standings.
About FC Dallas: FC Dallas is in good form lately, sitting just outside of the playoff picture in ninth place with 18 points through 17 matches. The top seven teams in the Western Conference will make the 2021 MLS playoffs. … Dallas began August with a 1-1 draw against the Seattle Sounders. Dallas had won its previous two matches, both against probable playoff squads, the Galaxy and Sporting Kansas City. … Teenage forward Ricardo Pepi is the star of the team and leads the club with eight goals. No other player on the squad has scored more than three.