Both teams are out of postseason contention, with the Verde-and-Black having lost two in a row, while Orange Crush dropped their 13th match this season, 3-0 to the Los Angeles Galaxy.
As their inaugural campaign begins to wind down, the things that have haunted Austin throughout the year seem to have returned, namely an inability to score goals.
Until recently, their traditional formation was to line up in a 4-3-3 with manager Josh Wolff reverting to a similar approach employed by USA coach Gregg Berhalter, who Wolff worked under during his time with the Columbus Crew.
That possession-heavy style has seen this expansion side showcase some beautiful interplay, plus some highlight-reel goals, but more often than not, they have put up a goose egg, having been shut out 16 times this year, including in their previous two fixtures.
They tried to add some scoring depth during the previous transfer window, spending a lot of money on a pair of attacking players, and although that helped them for a short time, it seems as though opposing sides have figured out how to shut this team down.
Despite keeping most of their home games relatively close, their lack of team speed is evident, while they have been missing the presence of a strong midfielder who can win balls in those dirty areas of the field.
In their previous two meetings with Houston, Austin have produced mixed results, winning 3-1 at TQL Stadium to open the month of August and then allowing the Dynamo numerous quality scoring opportunities last month, losing 3-0.
If high pressing and effort could earn you points, Houston could be in a postseason position, but unfortunately, you need more than that to succeed in this league.
For a fourth straight year, this team will be watching the postseason from home, and the best that they can hope for the rest of the way is a 10th place finish, which would be two places higher than they finished the 2020 campaign.
While the two of them have produced offensively, the direct style of play from manager Tab Ramos has not created as many turnovers as he would have hoped for, and that approach has left them vulnerable on the counter, which explains why they have conceded the second-most goals (49) in the Western Conference.
At this point, it is hard to imagine a scenario in which Ramos keeps his job when their season ends as the former American international has failed to turn their fortunes around in his nearly two years at the helm.
If there is a positive for this team moving forward, it could be some of their wide players, like Picault and Tyler Pasher, who have shown flashes of brilliance both offensively and defensively and they both still have long careers ahead of them.
McKinze Gaines made his sixth consecutive appearance for Austin earlier this week, replacing Moussa Djitte, who has only scored once for the Verde-and-Black since joining them from Grenoble in Ligue 2 in France earlier this year.
Matt Besler has a concussion and is unlikely to see the field again this season, Danny Hoesen remains out with a left hip problem, Aaron Schoenfeld and Ulises Segura continue to miss time with left knee injuries and Ben Sweat is still having issues with his ACL.
Tomas Pochettino, who has been a disappointment in midfield for much of the year, had arguably his best game of the season in their previous home fixture against Houston, scoring twice in the first half, his only two strikes of 2021, while Cecilio Dominguez got the winner on that day, as he leads the team in goals and assists, currently with seven and three respectively.
Michael Nelson made his 10th start in goal for Houston on Wednesday, conceding on three of the five shots that he faced, Sam Junqua earned his 28th career cap for Orange Crush, Tim Parker has appeared in every game this year and Zarek Valentin is one appearance away from 180 in his MLS career.
Griffin Dorsey scored his first goal of the year in the last meeting between these two sides as the 22-year-old winger has found the back of the net twice this season, with both of them coming within the opening five minutes of play.
Austin FC possible starting lineup:
Stuver; Kolmanic, Romana, Jimenez, Lima; Ring, Pochettino; Dominguez, Driussi, Fagundez; Djitte
Houston Dynamo possible starting lineup:
Maric; Parker, Valentin, Figueroa, Lundqvist; Lassiter, Corona, Ceren, Pasher; Urruti, Picault
We say: Austin FC 2-1 Houston Dynamo
Austin will want to give their loyal fan base something to cheer about before the end of the season, and with their final home game against Sporting Kansas City, this is their best chance to give their supporters one last victory at TQL Stadium, where they have scored seven goals over their previous three games.
The Dynamo are the only team in MLS who have not won a road game this year, and even though this may be their best opportunity, it is clear that their morale is low right now, which is something that Austin can exploit.