Last time out, Austin FC came from behind to defeat in-state rivals Houston Dynamo FC 2-1, thanks to goals from Dani Pereira and MLS April Player of the Month Sebastián Driussi. The victory was the Club’s record fourth in a row, its second-consecutive comeback win on the road, and its sixth-consecutive MLS match without defeat.
The Verde & Black face a big test up next, with the LA Galaxy visiting Q2 Stadium on Sunday (6:00 p.m. CT). The sides met twice last year, with the home team winning 2-0 on each occasion. Austin will look to keep that trend true to form in a match between two of the Western Conference’s top teams so far this season.
Austin FC Outlook
ATXFC’s four-match winning streak has the Club in an excellent position through nine weeks of the 2022 campaign, in second place in both the Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings. Head Coach Josh Wolff’s squad is the highest-scoring in the league and only five teams have allowed fewer goals.
The MVP-caliber form of Driussi is a big reason why Austin FC have come on leaps and bounds in Year Two. The Argentine Designated Player has seven goals and three assists so far, the most goal contributions of any player in MLS. He’s played a major role in transforming the team’s threat in attack: the Verde & Black are averaging 1.63 goals per match in 27 matches since his debut last August, up from 0.81 goals per match in the 16 matches prior.
Including Saturday’s win over Houston, Austin is unbeaten in its last eight matches (7-1-0) when Driussi has scored. His ability to get on the scoresheet away from home - he’s scored in each of ATXFC’s last three road matches - may prove particularly valuable over the next two months.
After hosting LA this weekend, the Verde & Black will play 7 of its next 9 games away, including a pair of matches in Los Angeles later this month against LAFC (May 18) and the Galaxy (May 29). Given those teams sit either side of Austin in first and third places respectively, picking up maximum points at home this weekend takes on added importance.
LA Galaxy Outlook
In third place in the Western Conference on 16 points, the Galaxy will be one of the toughest opponents the Verde & Black have faced so far this season. With Austin FC four points above them, the match is a chance for LA to narrow the gap to the top two, while ATXFC could stretch that gap and put some distance between themselves and the chasing pack.
Under Head Coach Greg Vanney, LA boasts one of the stingiest defenses in the league with seven goals allowed through nine games, and an MLS-best two goals allowed from open play. However, they don’t score a lot either. Almost all of their games this year have been close and low-scoring: six of their matches have ended either 1-0 or 0-0 (the Galaxy are 3-2-1 in those games), and only one of their nine fixtures so far has been decided by multiple goals.
Legendary Mexican men’s national team striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernández is the team’s most dangerous player. He has 5 of the team’s 10 goals this season and is the only Galaxy player to have scored multiple times in MLS play.
Raheem Edwards is one of the league’s best chance creators, with eight key passes and five assists (second only to Diego Fagundez's six in MLS) to his name. Former Bayern Munich and Juventus player Douglas Costa provides additional threat down the wings.
The Verde & Black will need to limit opportunities for that trio if they’re to preserve their unbeaten home record in 2022.
Probable LA Galaxy Lineup
(4-2-3-1, R-L) - GK: Jonathan Bond; Julián Araujo, Sega Coulibaly, Derrick Williams, Raheem Edwards; Rayan Raveloson, Marco Delgado; Douglas Costa, Efraín Álvarez, Kévin Cabral; Javier Hernández