Austin FC will play one of the biggest matches of its 2022 regular season under the Friday night lights at Q2 Stadium. The top-of-the-table clash will see the Verde & Black take on Supporters’ Shield leaders Los Angeles FC, a team which Austin defeated in California three months ago thanks to goals from Ruben Gabrielsen and Diego Fagundez.
The match will feature on national television on ESPN (English) and ESPN Deportes (Spanish), and will also be broadcast internationally in 83 countries around the world.
Austin FC Outlook
As Austin eyes the final eight matches of the 2022 campaign, the objective is simple: first, secure playoff qualification, and second, finish fourth or higher to earn the right to host at least one playoff match at Q2 Stadium.
Beyond that though, the Supporters’ Shield - a trophy awarded to the MLS club with the most points from regular season matches - is still up for grabs. LAFC is nine points ahead of ATXFC in the race to claim the Shield at the moment, but a Verde victory would reduce that gap heading into the homestretch.
Meanwhile, Sebastián Driussi continues to bolster his case for the Landon Donovan MLS MVP award. His goal in last Saturday’s narrow defeat to Minnesota was his league-leading 18th of the season. He has now scored in five consecutive matches, and contributed to at least one goal in a league-best nine consecutive matches.
Austin is the only team to beat LAFC at Banc of California Stadium this season, and could also become the only team to beat them twice in MLS play on Friday night.
Los Angeles FC Outlook
LAFC enters this weekend’s critical contest on the back of a rare loss, having fallen 2-1 to San Jose Earthquakes last Saturday. Still, the team is well-positioned to finish at the top of the MLS standings come season’s end, and has already clinched a playoff berth with 57 points on the board.
Since they last faced Austin FC, the Black and Gold made a number of eye-catching signings in the summer transfer window, including superstar Welsh winger Gareth Bale, and longtime Italian national team defender Giorgio Chiellini. Yet its familiar faces continue to produce, with Carlos Vela, Cristian Arango, and Kwadwo Opoku all in good form in front of goal.
Ilie Sanchez, a key cog in the team’s midfield, is set to miss the trip to Texas after receiving a red card in LAFC’s loss to San Jose. His absence could be one area the Verde & Black look to exploit, though LAFC boasts plenty of able deputies to fill Sanchez’s role.
Probable Los Angeles FC Lineup
(4-3-3, R-L) - GK: Maxime Crepeau; Franco Escobar, Jesus Murillo, Giorgio Chiellini, Diego Palacios; Jose Cifuentes, Kellyn Acosta, Jhegson Mendez; Carlos Vela, Cristian Arango, Kwadwo Opoku