Austin FC return home to Q2 Stadium on Sunday to host Columbus Crew SC in what will be the Club’s second-ever home match. Austin comes in after just playing Wednesday night, dropping a 2-0 result to Minnesota United FC at Allianz Field. The Verde & Black currently sit in 11th place in the Western Conference after collecting nine points in their first 10 matches -- nine of which came on the road.
Austin FC Outlook
Austin return home after finishing up a stretch that saw them start the season with nine of their first 10 matches away from home. Home field advantage is much needed after a match that saw ATXFC deal with multiple injuries.
Captain Alex Ring was forced to bow out of the match before it even started after suffering a knock in training on Tuesday. Nick Lima soon followed him to the injury list after pulling up with a hamstring injury in the first couple minutes of the match.
The Loons pounced on an unsettled Austin side -- scoring twice in the first 20 minutes -- as they were able to hold onto that lead for the rest of the match. Josh Wolff’s team created a couple of chances after halftime but were unable to cut into Minnesota’s lead.
With Austin dealing with multiple injuries, Wednesday was a chance for some younger players in the squad to see more action. 21-year-old Aedan Stanley got the start at left back -- before moving into a central midfield role -- while 20-year-old Sebastian Berhalter and 22-year-old Manny Perez also appeared on the team sheet at defensive midfielder and striker, respectively.
Three Austin players (Berhatler, Hector Jimenez, Andrew Tarbell) could face their former team after helping Columbus win MLS Cup last year. This match is the first of four straight, and six of seven, at home for the Verde & Black as they look to turn Q2 Stadium into a fortress.
The Crew have had an up-and-down start to their season after lifting the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy last year, but they do sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
They were bounced from the Concacaf Champions League in the quarterfinals by Liga MX giants Monterrey back in May and have been regaining their championship form since. Caleb Porter’s side come into Sunday’s match having won three of their last four matches, though the one match they did not win came on Wednesday night as they lost 1-0 at the Philadelphia Union.
The side remains a strong one defensively -- having conceded just seven goals in nine matches -- but have struggled to score goals as they have scored just one per game so far this season.
Probable Columbus Lineup
- GK: Eloy Room; Harrison Afful, Jonathan Mensah, Vito Wormgoor, Milton Valenzuela; Liam Fraser, Darlington Nagbe; Kevin Molino, Lucas Zelarayan, Pedro Santos; Gyasi Zardes