Two of the worst teams in Major League Soccer, certainly in terms of points accumulated, will go head-to-head on Saturday evening, as the Houston Dynamo play host to Austin FC at BBVA Compass Stadium.
This will be the third time that the two teams have faced off this year, though only one of the previous meetings was a competitive fixture. Back in April, the Dynamo won a friendly at this venue, winning by three goals to two. Just over a month later, Austin FC came out on top when it mattered, winning by three goals to two at Q2 Stadium.
Houston Dynamo – Wins hard to come by
In one respect, Houston is the best team in Major League Soccer. If a prize was to be handed out for the longest winless run, then it would be handed straight to the Dynamo, who have failed to win each of their last 16 matches. Worse still, Saturday’s hosts have lost six of their last seven, conceding a worrying total of 16 goals.
It is in the defensive third where Houston continues to fall down. The hosts have scored in five of their last seven, scoring a modest total of seven goals, but that means little when they’re giving so much away. In fact, even if they had done better offensively, they probably wouldn’t have gotten too many more positive results of late, such has been the level of their defensive ineptitude.
Expected Line-Up: Nelson – Valentin, Parker, Hadebe, Lundqvist – Vera, Jones, Rodriguez – Pasher, Urruti, Picault.
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Austin FC – One step forward, two steps back
On a few occasions in recent times, Austin has taken a positive step. They beat Houston in the reverse fixture back in early August, while they also got the better of the Portland Timbers a few weeks ago. However, they seem unable to follow up a win with a positive result. After each of those wins came multiple defeats, and they’ve now not followed a win with either another victory or a draw since May.
Playing on the road is also something that the visitors aren’t fond of. They’re winless on their travels since winning in Minnesota four months ago, while they’ve now lost four travelling matches on the bounce, conceding seven goals, scoring just one in reply.
Expected Line-Up: Stuver – Jimenez, Cascante, Besler, Lima – Ring, Fagundez – Pochettino, Driussi, Gallagher – Dominguez.
Expert Pick #1 – Both Teams to Score @-155
Given that neither side comes here in strong form, both teams are likely to view this as a clear opportunity to do well, so don’t be surprised if we saw something of a positive approach from both.
Scoring goals isn’t necessarily something that the visitors have done well on their travels this season, but they do come here having scored away against Vancouver when last on the road, creating a pleasing 1.6 expected goals in the process. What’s more, Houston are no strangers to both scoring and conceding at home, with both teams having found the net in all but two of their 11 MLS games at BBVA Compass Stadium. Add in Austin’s lack of clean sheets on the road, coupled with the fact that both have fared poorly in terms of xG against, and a bet on both teams to score starts to make plenty of sense.
Expert Pick #2 – Houston Dynamo to Win @+115
If you’d rather stick with the moneyline, then despite their somewhat ridiculous winless streak, the hosts look the best bet. The reasoning here is simple, we’re talking about a side that is better equipped to score goals than their visitors. Houston averages just over a goal per game in front of their own fans, 1.18, which is by no means anything to write home about, but it’s far better than the average of 0.58 boasted by Austin FC, a side that has scored just one goal in four recent away games.
In addition, the hosts come out much more favourably in terms of expected goals, boasting an average expected goal difference of -0.06 at home. The visitors have an average expected goal difference of -0.63, which points towards the +115 available on the home win being ever so slightly on the generous side.
Expert Pick #3 – Fafa Picault to Score @+210
Let’s get right down to it. Looking at some of the other prices on offer, the +210 on a Fafa Picault goal looks lenient. The 30-year-old has been Houston’s biggest goal threat this season, notching six times in MLS, including three in his last five and four in his last seven. Against an Austin FC side not known for away-day clean sheets, but very much known for giving chances away, the man who averages 0.39 xG per 90 is supported to feature on the scoresheet once again.
With this match representing an opportunity for both teams to go up against out-of-form opposition, it would be a surprise if something of a cavalier approach didn’t see both score, but ultimately, the hosts appear to have enough in the locker to finally end their winless run in front of a home crowd.