There will be plenty on the line when Houston Dynamo FC travels northwest to square off against expansion Austin FC on Sunday afternoon in the latest rendition of the Texas Derby.
A spot in the playoffs will not be in the offing -- both teams have already been eliminated from postseason consideration. But the pride of the Lone Star State is at stake -- and that's huge.
The Dynamo are in 11th place in the Western Conference with Austin FC in 13th and at the tail end of the standings.
Houston (6-13-12, 30 points) heads to Austin after a 3-0 road loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday. It was the first time the Dynamo had been held scoreless since Sept. 29. Houston is 1-3-1 over its past five matches and has not won on the road this season (nine losses, six draws).
The Dynamo went through a stretch of 16 games without a win this season, and that took its toll on the team, according to Houston coach Tab Ramos.
"It's not easy to be in the locker room while that's going on," Ramos said. "We weren't just showing up to lose games -- we fought for every minute of every game, till the end. And I think for those guys to have done that, they deserve a lot of credit."
Austin FC (7-19-4, 25 points) heads home after a 4-0 loss at San Jose on Wednesday, the second straight game the expansion side had been held scoreless. Austin has only two victories in its past 10 matches but has won two of its last three games at home.
Austin can still achieve a significant milestone over the final four games of its inaugural season. With wins over Houston on Sunday and FC Dallas next Saturday, it would finish with the most points from intra-Texas matches. There's that Lone Star State pride thing again.
"We've got to come out and focus on just winning the next game," Austin coach Josh Wolff said. "We know it's an intra-state game, and it's a nice rivalry game to wind our guys up for. It's important to the players, and it's important to the fans."
The teams have played twice, with each winning on their home pitch.
--Field Level Media