AUSTIN (KXAN) — The year of firsts continues for Austin FC as the club prepares for its first regular season rivalry game — otherwise known as a “derby match” against the Houston Dynamo.
You can watch the game in the Austin area Wednesday at 8 p.m. on KBVO.
This match comes at a time when Austin FC is desperate for a boost, floundering in the MLS Western Conference standings. Austin has lost three matches in a row and are in last place in the conference with 13 points.
Their official record is 3-8-4.
However, playing an in-state rival will always have a team amped up in any sport, especially when it’s your first year of play.
Josh Wolff has noticed the uptick of intensity in the past few practices — a welcomed atmosphere for a wounded team in desperate need of a win.
“It’s our first-ever derby match, so I think guys are excited about that,” Wolff said. “We had a couple of things in training happen with players looking for calls in one of our games and I’m like, ‘guys, this is what it’s going to be like we’ve got to let this go, you’ve got to let plays go because that’s what it’s going to be like, there’s going to be physicality, there’s going to be intensity.’ Again, it’s our first one of these, but around the league since I’ve been in the league there’s been a number of fantastic derbies.”
Wednesday night’s match could set the precedent of what the Austin and Houston rivalry will become for the next several years.
“It brings an on-field intensity as well as an off-field intensity and those things tend to merge and really spark and drive what the derbies can become,” Wolff continued.
Austin’s struggles at home have been well noted, particularly when it comes to its offense. The club has been shut out at home five times in six matches. Verde has failed to score a goal in nine of its last 11 MLS matches.
“We haven’t gotten enough points at home and we can’t run from the reality, we’ve got to continue to compete,” Wolff explained. “What we have to do is what we haven’t done lately is score some goals. It’ll be a good game, obviously, we look forward to it.”
To help with their offensive issues, Austin FC signed two players who are tasked with providing more offensive firepower. The problem is — those players aren’t available yet and won’t be on the pitch against Houston.
Moussa Djitté, Austin FC’s late June signing, hasn’t made it to Austin despite being signed over a month ago.
“This is what it looks like with green cards and visas…when you’re trying to bring players from abroad [it] is challenging,” Wolff said.
Sebastian Driussi, a 25-year-old striker who has played the last four seasons with Zenit St. Petersburg in the Russian Premier League, is in Austin, but the club is bringing him along slowly.
“He’s an intelligent football player, which is a good thing, and he’ll make the players around him better,” Wolff explained. “He’s been very receptive, he works extremely hard, and those things are appreciated. He’s anxious to get in with the group, he’s anxious to play.”
Wolff didn’t provide a timetable on when Druissi will actually see game action.
One player who most likely will return to the field against Houston is midfielder Danny Pereira, who has missed the last six weeks due to a knee injury.
“Danny’s been involved for the last week or so in full training so, he should be available for the game tomorrow,” Wolff noted. “We’re optimistic that he can find some minutes tomorrow and certainly against Dallas.”
How to watch Austin FC vs. Houston
Houston at Austin FC
When: Wednesday at 8 p.m.
Where: Q2 Stadium (Austin, Texas)
Watch: Univision 62 Austin Mobile App
Listen: TUDN Radio Austin (104.3-HD2, KLQB)
Where is Austin FC in the MLS Western Conference standings?
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