After a 5-0 win over FC Cincinnati to kick off the 2022 Major League Soccer season last Saturday, Austin FC is back in action at home against Inter Miami CF this Sunday (3 p.m. CT). It will be the first time the Verde & Black have faced the south Florida side, who last season finished 11th in the Eastern Conference.
Contrary to 2021, when ATXFC played 9 of its first 10 games on the road, Austin has the chance to open its 2022 campaign with back-to-back wins at Q2 Stadium.
Austin FC Outlook
It’s hard to imagine a better way to start the season than last Saturday, as the Verde & Black opened the scoring with less than two minutes on the clock and never looked back. All three of the Club’s Designated Players - Cecilio Domínguez, Alex Ring, and Sebastián Driussi - got a goal in the first half.
A second-half strike from Domínguez, set up by Driussi, completed his brace and saw the Paraguayan included in the MLS Team of the Week for Week 1. A brilliant bit of play from Moussa Djitté then forced a late own goal to earn the largest margin of victory in a season-opening match in MLS history.
The result was the latest in a recent string of strong performances at Q2 Stadium, which has become a fortress for the Club. Over the course of its last six home matches, Austin has five wins, 14 goals scored, and four goals conceded. The team’s habit of scoring early in home matches has served it well - ATXFC scored in the opening seven minutes of each of its last three home matches, all of which were wins.
Saturday also saw Austin FC debuts for six of the Club’s offseason arrivals: Maxi Urruti and Kipp Keller as starters, and Ruben Gabrielsen, Felipe Martins, Ethan Finlay, and Jhojan Valencia as substitutes.
Head Coach Josh Wolff will be hoping for more of the same form at home as his side welcomes a tricky opponent in Miami.
Inter Miami CF Outlook
Like Austin, Miami missed the playoffs last year and is hungry to put that right in 2022. IMCF opened its season with a 0-0 home draw against Chicago Fire FC, a match in which new arrival DeAndre Yedlin made his debut for the club.
A U.S. international, Yedlin began his career in MLS with Seattle Sounders FC before heading to the English Premier League, where he played for five years with Newcastle United FC in addition to brief stints with Tottenham Hotspur FC and Sunderland. He spent last season with Turkish giants Galatasaray, and has 71 USMNT appearances to his name. Yedlin provides a headache down the right flank for any of Miami’s opponents this season, and stopping him is sure to be an area of focus for the Verde & Black on Sunday.
Gonzalo Higuaín is another name to look out for. The famous Argentine striker racked up 12 goals and nine assists last season and created a team-high seven chances in Miami’s season opener. Contrary to Cincinnati’s more narrow shape, Miami looks to spread out its opponents and find space in the wide areas, providing a different sort of test for Austin than last weekend.
Miami Head Coach Phil Neville will be hoping his side can reverse a poor run of form in road games, as IMCF has lost 5 of its last 6 away from DRV PNK Stadium, scoring only two goals during that stretch.
Probable Inter Miami CF Lineup
(3-5-2, R-L) - GK: Clément Diop; Jairo Quinteros, Damion Lowe, Christopher McVey; DeAndre Yedlin, Jean Mota, Gregore, Mo Adams, Brek Shea; Gonzalo Higuaín, Leonardo Campana