Storylines is delighted to welcome Austin FC back to the Twin Cities this weekend, especially if they’re going to give us the kind of game they did last season. While beating Texas teams is oh so fun for us in Loons Land, it seems to be even more enjoyable for those Lone Star losers to beat up on one another.
Since 2019, professional soccer teams in Texas have competed in a supporters’ competition dubbed the “Copa Tejas,” not to be confused with the Texas Derby that’s played between Houston and Dallas. Essentially, this competition crowns the Kings of Texas each year, with the only games that count towards the title being the regular-season meetings between Texas rivals.
The Copa Tejas is a multileveled competition within a competition, incorporating a title for the best first and second division men’s teams in the state as well as a shield that is contested by USL, MLS, and NWSL sides.
In their last two home games, El Tree have catapulted themselves back into the Copa Tejas chase. McConaughey’s boys are the current holders, but their terrible early-season form saw them slip up in crucial moments.
A 2-0 away loss to Houston in March was followed by a 1-0 home loss to FC Dallas in May. To put the cherry on top, they lost in Houston again at the end of May, making it a perfect 0-3 in their quest to retain the title as the best team in Texas. They dug their own hole, but Los Verdes never gave up on their season.
A resurgent run of form that began in late May has seen Austin steadily climb the league standings, putting them back into a playoff spot and demonstrating an incredible ability to deal with adversity. They’re currently undefeated in their last three matches, and two of those came with a bit of revenge.
The first name checked off the hit list was FC Dallas. Los Toros weren’t prepared for the performance put on by Josh Wolff’s men, with Minnesotan soccer star Ethan Finlay opening the scoring in the 17th minute. Goals from Gyasi Zardes and Diego Fagundez essentially put the game to bed by the hour mark, giving the home side their first positive result in their efforts to retain the Copa Tejas.
On June 24, Q2 Stadium welcomed the Houston Dynamo to town. It seems that the third time was the charm for this matchup, as Los Verdes put in a dominant performance for yet another 3-0 win, behind goals from Finlay and Zardes once again, as well as Julio Cascante.
It seems like the passion of their in-state rivalry has woken Austin up, and their Copa Tejas story is, in many ways, a microcosm of their 2023 season so far. A slow start means nothing if you’re resilient and hopeful, and this weekend’s visitors seem to be filled with both attributes.
But we don’t play in Texas, do we? Before Austin can worry about ruling their own state, they’ve got to find a way past Minnesota United in the North Star State. The Loons are looming, and we can’t wait to remind these guys who actually owns Texas soccer.
They’re still the new kids on the block, having been founded in 2018. However, the Verde and Black have proven that club history isn’t everything when it comes to winning in this league. Though they have a losing record at Allianz Field, Austin will be hoping to prove history wrong once again on Saturday.
Minnesota United FC vs. Austin FC
Allianz Field | Saint Paul, Minnesota
07.08.2023 | MLS Game #20
7:30 p.m. CT (MLS Season Pass, 1500 ESPN)