Austin FC may be leading the Supporters’ Shield, but Los Verdes winger Ethan Finlay’s first focus is on claiming Texan bragging rights over FC Dallas in MLS.
The Verde and Black have put together four straight league wins to leave them top of the Western Conference after a 3-1 victory over Houston Dynamo.
That leaves Austin a point ahead of Los Angeles FC, who have played a game less, but Finlay wants to secure victory over state rivals Dallas to claim Texan territory.
“When I showed up here, very quickly I learned how much this meant to our supporters and to our ownership group, really both,” Finlay told MLSsoccer.com.
“And that’s unique, where ownership in Year 2 is already saying this matters to us. We’re prideful. We might be a new team in this market and a new team in Texas, but we want to be the best team. They take a lot of pride in that.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to really give (our supporters) something mid-season to be able to really cheer about and be happy about.”
Nico Estevez’s side are without a win in six league games, most recently losing to New York City FC, and the coach expects another tough test against Austin.
“Every game is very important, whether we win or lose. Every game is very important. We have a need right now,” he said.
“We can not lose our mind because we will create mistakes that will not allow us to win games. Against Austin we will always play for the win.
“We were close whenever we played over there in their field. We know they are a team on a good run but we will be ready to battle.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
FC Dallas – Jesus Ferreira
Jesus Ferreira has been the star for Dallas this season, scoring 11 times and assisting four goals in 19 MLS appearances.
Austin FC – Maximiliano Urruti
Maximiliano Urruti will be tasked with leading Austin up top once more after scoring his seventh league goal of the campaign against the Dynamo last time out.
KEY OPTA FACTS
·Austin FC earned its first point against FC Dallas on June 25, coming back from 2-0 down in the final 20 minutes to draw, 2-2. Dallas won all three meetings last season and has scored at least twice in each of the four matches.
·FC Dallas’ winless run extended to six games with a 1-0 defeat to New York City on Wednesday. Dallas has just one win in its last nine league games (D3 L5) after winning six of its previous nine (D3).
·Austin FC equaled the longest winning streak in club history at four with a 3-1 victory over Houston on Tuesday. The Verde have a chance to equal the longest winning streak in MLS this season with the Union winning five in a row in March-April.
·FC Dallas held NYCFC to four shots in its 1-0 loss on Wednesday, the third time Dallas has held a team to four shots in a match this season, losing two of those three games (W1). All other MLS teams have eight games with opponents attempting four shots or fewer and none of those have ended in losses (W5 D3).
·Austin conceded the opening goal to the Dynamo on Tuesday before scoring three unanswered. Austin has recovered a league-high 15 points (W4 D3) from losing positions this season, with the four wins tying Montreal for most comeback victories in the league.