Texas rivals Austin and FC Dallas will meet in the second MLS Western Conference semi-final and they look closely matched going into the game.
Who do Bettors Favor?
The best-rated online sportsbooks show that bettors favor Austin in this Texan clash. The home team are rated as -104 favorites, while the visitors are priced at +260 and the draw is +310.
|Austin v Dallas|
Betting on the MLS Playoffs Semi-Finals
After the First Round action, the MLS playoffs reach the semi-final stages. Eight teams in each conference will compete in four semi-finals, with the winners going on to the Conference Finals, and the two teams that emerge from those games will face off in the MLS Cup Final. Austin FC have home advantage for this game as they finished higher than FC Dallas during the regular season.
From No Hopers to MLS Contenders
There have been few turnarounds as spectacular as that shown by Austin, who have been transformed from no-hopers to MLS Cup contenders in the space of a year.
In fact, their improvement has set a record for debut franchises in their second year, beating that set by Chivas USA in 2006. They finished second in the Western Conference, registering 56 points, representing a 25-point improvement on their tally of last year.
Josh Wolff can consider himself unlucky not to be on the shortlist for the Coach of the Year Award, although Wolff is only interested in team outcomes and the battling mentality he has instilled in his players has been one of the features of their season. That was demonstrated again in their First Round game against Real Salt Lake where they recovered from being 2-0 down inside 15 minutes to level the game in the fourth minute of injury time before winning on penalties.
Battling Dallas are no Pushovers
After missing out on the playoffs last season, FC Dallas are back in the playoffs – making it four post season appearances in the last five years, and they will be no pushovers for Austin.
Under head coach Nico Estevez, Dallas doubled their 2021 win total, picking up 14 victories and 53 points during the regular season, registering their highest total in both of those categories since 2018. That success was built largely on a strong defense. Dallas rate as one of the best defensive teams in MLS, conceding only 37 goals, ranking second overall behind Philadelphia.
They were consistent throughout the regular season, and their defensive qualities were once again on display in their First Round playoff tie against Minnesota, along with their tenacity, as they restricted their opponents to one goal, equalized after just 11 minutes and stayed strong throughout a tense penalty shootout, eventually winning 5-4
Head-to-Head MLS Record
Austin’s relatively recent entry into MLS means that this is a rivalry that has only had five installments so far, although it has become one of the most keenly fought local derbies in the league.
FC Dallas won all three of their regular season meetings last season, by an aggregate score of 9-4, but things have been a lot tighter on the head-to-head standings this season.
Their first meeting was an entertaining 2-2 draw in Austin in June, and the reverse fixture took place just three weeks later, ending in a 1-1 draw in Dallas.
The team news for both Austin and Dallas going into this game is relatively positive. Austin will be without Freddy Kleeman, who is struggling with a knee problem, while Bernard Kamungo is the main injury worry for Dallas, as he recovers from a right ankle knock.
Austin’s winger Diego Fagundez is one yellow card away from a suspension, so will have to tread carefully in this game, while Paul Arriola is in the same situation for Dallas.
Betting Pick for MLS Semi Finals
Austin present a tricky problem for Dallas to solve, as their improvement has been particularly noticeable in attack. Last year’s biggest problem for Austin was offense, as they finished as the lowest-scoring team in the MLS during the regular season. This time around, they found the net 65 times, ranking second in the West, with only LAFC having a better goalscoring record.
Still, Dallas managed to contain them twice during the regular season, matching them home and away so will be confident that they can do so again here.
The visitors will also take some confidence from the fact that Austin’s free-scoring style became less effective at the close of the regular season. In fact, they scored a goal or less in each of their last three games. To set against that, however, is the fact that they haven’t lost at home since August.
Factor in the local derby element and this could turn into a tight and scrappy encounter. Both teams were taken to penalties in their First-Round games and I think the normal time draw looks like a good betting pick here, with extra time or penalties ultimately deciding which team will progress.