MLS

​Austin FC v Houston Dynamo: Olsen reveals 'tough conversations' as derby looms

By Sports Desk May 15, 2024

Ben Olsen had to hold a few "tough conversations" to get the Houston Dynamo out of their slump, with Saturday's Texas derby at Austin FC offering them the chance for back-to-back wins.

The Dynamo approached Saturday's trip to Sporting Kansas City both winless and goalless in three MLS matches (one draw, two defeats), while they were also dumped out of the U.S. Open Cup by Detroit City FC.

However, goals from Hector Herrera and Ibrahim Aliyu handed them a 2-1 road win and lifted them into the top seven of the Western Conference – above Austin by a single point. 

Speaking ahead of Wednesday's grudge match against a team that won the reverse fixture less than a month ago, Olsen credited his players for coming through a tough patch. 

"I think some people were questioning us, and we've had a few tough conversations, particularly with the U.S. Open cup knockout. This was just a really good response," he said.

"We have to figure out when we are at our best, to think, 'who are we, at our best?'

"It was our defensive effort that we hung our hat on last year, so it's a bit of a renewed feeling of that being there."

Austin, by contrast, were on a run of four wins in six games before they were beaten 2-1 by another Texas rival in FC Dallas on Saturday.

Despite that reverse, centre-back Julio Cascante has praised the defensive work done by coach Josh Wolff, with Austin looking far more competitive than was the case in their dismal 2023 season.

"Despite everything, we've worked very hard on the defensive side," Cascante said.

"Emphasis has been placed on the defensive side, but defending is done as an entire team. It starts with the number nine. I think that makes the difference."

PLAYERS TO WATCH 

Austin FC – Sebastian Driussi

Driussi scored a consolation from the penalty spot at Dallas on Saturday, his third goal of the season in eight MLS starts. 

Only Diego Rubio, who has started three additional games, has matched that tally for Austin this year. The Argentine will be looking to carry his team's attacking hopes again here.

Houston Dynamo – Amine Bassi 

Bassi recorded his third assist of the season by teeing up Hector Herrera's 31st-minute strike against Sporting on Saturday. 

All three of Bassi's assists have come on goals from outside the box this season – Houston's only three strikes from outside the penalty area.

MATCH PREDICTION – AUSTIN FC WIN

Houston have won three of their first five road matches this year, having only recorded more than three regular-season away wins in one of the last 10 campaigns, winning four times on their travels in 2022.

However, Austin have won all four of their previous home matches against Houston, netting multiple goals in each contest. The Dynamo are one of two teams – alongside Kansas City – that Austin have hosted more than once while posting a 100 per cent record.

Austin have also won three straight at home after only winning once in their previous 10 outings at Q2 Stadium. Back on home soil after Saturday's derby loss, they will expect a different result. 

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Austin FC – 44.9%
Houston Dynamo – 26.9%
Draw – 28.2%

Related items

  • Leverkusen 'not interested' in unbeaten season before Europa League defeat, says Xhaka Leverkusen 'not interested' in unbeaten season before Europa League defeat, says Xhaka

    Bayer Leverkusen were "not interested" in maintaining their unbeaten record, according to Granit Xhaka, who acknowledged his frustrations after Wednesday's Europa League final disappointment.

    Xabi Alonso's Bundesliga champions had not suffered defeat since the final game of last season against Bochum, but succumbed to their next loss in the decisive moment against Atalanta in Dublin.

    Ademola Lookman stole the headlines with a remarkable hat-trick, powering Gian Piero Gasperini's team to their first title in 61 years, when Atalanta won the Coppa Italia.

    A 3-0 defeat ensured Leverkusen will have to settle for, at most, a domestic double as they look to bounce back on Saturday in the DFB-Pokal final.

    Yet Xhaka insisted Alonso's side never had the undefeated streak in their minds as soon as kick-off arrived at the Aviva Stadium.

    "Honestly, we're not interested in the unbeaten record," the former Arsenal midfielder said to RTL. "We didn't care about that from the start.

    "It's about the game and unfortunately we lost a final today. That's football.

    "We said yesterday that it would be a difficult game. Compliments to Atalanta."

    Leverkusen's unbeaten streak spanned nine months and 51 games this season, starting their 2023-24 campaign with a first-round DFB-Pokal thrashing of lowly Teutonia Ottensen in mid-August.

    Alonso's impressive men triumphed in 42 of those matches during their historic unbeaten run across all competitions, drawing the other nine as Leverkusen coasted to their first Bundesliga title in history.

    Scoring 143 goals and conceding just 39 across that dominant period, not many would have expected Gasperini's side to shutout Leverkusen and beat goalkeeper Matej Kovar three times in the process.

    Leverkusen are the first league-title winners to lose the UEFA Cup/Europa League final in the same season since Benfica in 2013-14, and the first German side to do since Borussia Dortmund in 2001-02.

    In single-game only finals, this was also the biggest margin of defeat for a German team since Eintracht Frankfurt lost 7-3 to Real Madrid in the 1960 European Cup, perhaps explaining Xhaka's annoyance.

  • Europa League misery will not taint Alonso's Leverkusen pride Europa League misery will not taint Alonso's Leverkusen pride

    Xabi Alonso will not allow Bayer Leverkusen's Europa League final defeat against Atalanta to alter his pride, after their historic 51-game unbeaten run ended on Wednesday.

    The Bundesliga champions were eyeing an unlikely treble, with the DFB-Pokal final to come this weekend, but those plans came crashing down in a 3-0 loss to Atalanta.

    Ademola Lookman single-handedly powered Gian Piero Gasperini's side to their first title in 61 years, producing an individual performance for the ages with a decisive hat-trick.

    European heartbreak marked Leverkusen's first loss this season, with their last defeat coming to Bochum on the last day of the 2022-23 Bundesliga campaign, as Alonso's side were finally stopped.

    Yet the former Liverpool and Bayern Munich midfielder says nothing can take away from Leverkusen's memorable campaign.

    "For me the result today does not change one bit how I feel about my players or what we have been doing," the Leverkusen head coach told TNT Sports.

    "It hurts because we wanted to lift the trophy but you can't have everything. We lifted the Bundesliga and we have the chance to lift the DFB-Pokal on Saturday."

    Leverkusen are the first team to win the league title but lose the UEFA Cup/Europa League final in the same term since Benfica in 2013-14, and the first German side to do since Borussia Dortmund in 2001-02.

    "This season and achievements have surpassed all expectations," Alonso continued.

    "I was hoping and getting ready to maybe do something great but this has been so much more.

    "To achieve what we have for a club like Leverkusen is great. To be in the last week of the season having lifted the Bundesliga and then going for the Pokal too means a lot.

    "First year as a coach, it is going quite well!"

    A monumental occasion at the Aviva Stadium marked Atalanta's first-ever major European trophy as they became the 10th different Italian side to do so, second only to teams from England (13).

    Alonso was unsurprised by the excellence of Gasperini and his Atalanta side, however.

    "It is not something they have just done this year, they have been doing it for many years," the Spaniard said, acknowledging the work of 66-year-old Gasperini.

    "They are a special team. Normally we get in better positions ourselves but today we could not.

    "We were not able to come back and get that back. It was not meant to be.

    "The unbeaten run has come to an end but congratulations to Atalanta, they deserve it, so nothing more to say."

  • 'We wrote history' – Gasperini and Lookman cherish Atalanta's Europa League glory 'We wrote history' – Gasperini and Lookman cherish Atalanta's Europa League glory

    Gian Piero Gasperini and Ademola Lookman both cherished creating Atalanta history after ending Bayer Leverkusen's unbeaten run and securing Europa League glory.

    Lookman produced a performance worthy of the most important European moment in Atalanta's history, securing the club's first-ever major trophy on the continent after his dazzling hat-trick.

    The Nigeria winger is just the sixth player to manage a treble in a major UEFA final and the first since Jupp Heynckes’ for Borussia Mönchengladbach against Twente in 1975.

    Lookman will be the toast of Bergamo when Gasperini's side head home, boasting their first trophy in 61 years – after the Coppa Italia – following a 3-0 triumph to end Leverkusen's 51-game unbeaten run.

    "One of the best nights of my life," the hat-trick hero told TNT Sports in Dublin.

    "Amazing performance from the team, we did it, we did it, we did it! I haven't got much else to say, but fantastic."

    Lookman is also just the second player to score a treble for an Italian side in the final of a major European competition, after Pierino Prati for Milan against Ajax in the 1969 European Cup

    Preparing to leave the Aviva Stadium with the Europa League trophy in hand, Lookman could not wait to celebrate a seismic moment in the club's history.

    "We've got to celebrate, we made history tonight," he added.

    Gasperini, aged 66 years and 117 days on Wednesday, is the oldest coach to win his debut major European final, and the second Italian coach to win the Europa League after Maurizio Sarri in 2019.

    The veteran Atalanta mastermind echoed Lookman's sentiment, after securing just a second trophy in the Italian club's history.

    "I think we wrote history, also for the way we won it," said Gasperini, speaking to UEFA's official media channels.

    "It was just extraordinary, we defeated Liverpool, Sporting who won the championship. When we faced Liverpool they were first in the Premier League... And now the German champions.

    "Incredible. The boys were extraordinary, a memorable performance."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.