Dynamo-Austin FC Preview

National Sports

Josh Wolff admits his side are “at a real low moment” as they prepare for a huge few days that will see them face in-state rivals Houston Dynamo FC and FC Dallas.

Austin’s maiden campaign in MLS has got off to a rather slow start, with the Texans bottom of the Western Conference standings as we hit the midway point of the regular season.

Wolff’s side are on a three-game losing run, failing to score in each of those. Going further back, they have been shut out in nine of their last 11 games.

Rather than downplay Austin’s poor patch of form, Wolff accepts an improvement is needed – and fast with the Dynamo visiting Q2 Stadium on Wednesday.

“We’re at a real low moment here,” Wolff said on the back of last weekend’s home loss to Colorado Rapids. “You’ve got to look at yourself.

“We as a staff will look at ourselves and certainly look at some of the structural things that we can change and some of the formations and how we finish attacks.”

The Dynamo have also fired a blank in three of their last four games and are nine without a win ahead of this showdown with neighbors Austin.

Tab Ramos’ charges have drawn nine games in 2021 – no team in MLS has drawn more – which leaves them three points outside of the Western Conference playoffs.

“Ties happen by chance. We’re not trying to tie games,” Ramos said. “You saw we were pushing all the way to the end for the win against Real Salt Lake.

“Even when we are on the road we are trying to win the game. I personally have never had so many ties. It is kind of strange tying every week because you are losing points.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Austin FC – Manny Perez

Sebastian Driussi could well be the man to help solve Austin’s goalscoring woes, but the new signing will likely have to wait for his debut as he was quarantining until Tuesday. Perez was handed just a second start of the season last weekend and may retain his place against Houston. If that is the case, though, he will have to improve on the 17 touches he managed in the loss to the Rapids.

Houston Dynamo FC – Fafa Picault

Having missed Austin’s most recent match due to an automatic one-match ban, Picault is expected to slot back into the side on Wednesday and will provide some much-needed fresh legs. Not since June has the attacking midfielder scored or assisted a goal, but he will be out to change that against an Austin side with just one clean sheet in their last six games.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– The Dynamo have won just one of their last 13 matches against MLS expansion sides dating back to October 2012 (D6 L6), a 2-1 home win over Minnesota United. The Dynamo’s only-ever away win against an expansion side was a 2-0 victory at Portland Timbers in 2011 (D5 L8, including playoffs).

– Austin FC failed to score for the 10th time in the club’s first 15 matches in a 1-0 defeat to Colorado on Saturday. Austin’s 10 goals are tied for the third fewest at this stage of an MLS season with only D.C. United in 2013 (seven) and FC Cincinnati in 2020 (eight) having scored fewer through 15 matches of a season.

– The Dynamo drew for the third straight match, and the seventh time in their last eight, with a scoreless match against Real Salt Lake on Saturday. Houston is the fourth team to record seven draws in an eight-match span after the Chicago Fire and Rapids in 2011 and LA Galaxy in 2009.

– Tomas Pochettino attempted a team-high three shots in Austin’s 1-0 defeat to Colorado on Saturday. Pochettino has now attempted 30 shots this season, which is the most by any player without at least one goal in MLS in 2021.

– Houston have played two scoreless draws in their last three matches, after recording just one 0-0 in their previous 75 matches dating back to September 2018.

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