Austin FC’s Diego Fagúndez takes on Houston Dynamo’s Samuel Junqua in a 2021 game at Q2 Stadium (Courtesy of Austin FC)
Don’t let all the football stadiums fool you: Texas is as big a football hotbed as any other place in the country. The state is likely to host at least two venues for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, and when they do, there’s a better chance of a few Texans appearing on the US roster. Fortunately, the Lone Star State major league soccer teams are beginning to do justice to his fútbol pedigree.
After the first two months of the MLS season, Austin F.C., FC Dallasand the Houston Dynamo sit second, fourth and seventh in the Western Conference ranking, respectively. And dare I point it out this early in the year, these are all playoff-eligible positions. A collective step forward from last season when Dallas, Austin and Houston monopolized the last three spots in the West. In fact, over the course of eight weeks this season, the three Texas clubs have already combined for 12 wins, more than half of their combined tally after the entire 2021 campaign.
While all three clubs are showing a marked improvement over the league as a whole, they are now starting to take aim at each other in what is shaping up to be an exciting season-long battle for the coveted. Tejas Cup. Dallas and Houston kicked off sortingvalry last weekend with a banger in Frisco. After conceding a goal in the first half at Dynamo and new Designated Player Sebastien FerreiraFC Dallas scored in the 87th minute and three minutes into added time to steal the win and send Houston back to the bayou.
And here’s where Austin FC joins the chat. The Greens and the Blacks have an afternoon meeting (12:30 p.m.) with the Dynamo at the PNC Stadium this Saturday, April 30, and two points to prove while they are there: First, that they can win a match on the road without pulling a three-goal bunny out of their hat in the final 10 minutes, and two, that they’re actually the most improved of the three highly improved Texas teams.
“We really want to be the best in Texas,” coach Josh Wolf reiterated recently. “It’s something our players talk about [and] our fans hold in high regard.”
Saturday’s game will also mark the return of Maxi Urruti at PNC Stadium, his home ground during the 2021 season. The striker has been a revelation so far for the Greens and Blacks with four goals to start the season. He and his fellow Argentinian Sebastien Drussi — the league’s top scorer with six goals — have had half of Austin FC’s league-leading 20-goal tally.
Lately the goals have come in the continued absence of the star winger Cecilio Dominguez. Last Wednesday, a report from ESPN Jeff Carlisle shed light on the cause of the MLS investigation and the indefinite suspension of the Paraguayan DP. According to this report, the investigation relates to “possible cases of verbal and emotional abuse directed by the player towards his ex-partner”. While the Austin Police Department has been notified of the situation, Carlisle’s report says there is no open criminal investigation related to Domínguez and there is no further follow-up. or legal proceedings all the way.