Following a 2-2 away draw against the San Jose Earthquakes in which striker Maxi Urruti scored an early goal of the season contender, Austin FC is set to return home to take on Minnesota United FC this Sunday (6:30 p.m. CT).
ATXFC faced the Loons three times last season, splitting a pair of meetings in Minnesota and falling to an unlucky 1-0 home defeat in October despite dominating just about every major statistical category. With both sides earning eight points from their opening five matches of 2022, Sunday’s encounter looks likely to be another close contest.
Austin FC Outlook
Home turf has been good to Austin FC lately. The Verde & Black are 6-1-1 in their last eight MLS matches at Q2 Stadium, with 20 goals scored and six allowed in that span. The one loss did come at the hands of Minnesota though, and Sunday offers an opportunity to erase that lone blemish on what has otherwise been a spotless recent home record.
The match will pit strength against strength, as Austin’s high-flying attack - which has the joint-most goals in MLS and averages 3.67 goals per game at home - meets a stingy Loons defense that has allowed four goals through five games.
Whether home or away, Sebastián Driussi’s MVP-caliber form is a big reason why Austin finds itself up in fourth place in the Western Conference. The Argentine is one of only three MLS players to record six goal contributions through his opening five games this season, joining the elite company of LAFC’s Carlos Vela and Columbus’ Lucas Zelarayán. In the last five games in which Driussi has been on the scoresheet, the Verde & Black are unbeaten, winning four and drawing one.
ATXFC midfielder Ethan Finlay will be up against some familiar faces. Finlay was born in Minnesota and spent the 2018 to 2021 seasons with the Loons, making 84 appearances in that span.
Minnesota United FC Outlook
Like ATXFC, Minnesota has won twice, drawn twice, and lost once to start the 2022 season. The Loons scored exactly one goal in all five of those matches and kept two clean sheets. While it’s still early in the campaign, those numbers suggest a compact and well-organized team, contrary to the chaotic approach of last week’s opponent San Jose.
Minnesota doesn’t give away a lot and has the look of a side that can compete with anyone in MLS. The team is balanced from back-to-front, anchored by an excellent young goalkeeper in Dayne St. Clair. Emanuel Reynoso is a consistent threat in the #10 role, and new arrival Luis Amarilla has hit the ground running, scoring a pair of goals thus far.
The Loons aren’t an easy team to beat or to score on, but the three points are there for Austin to take if the team is clinical in finishing the chances that come its way.
Probable Minnesota United FC Lineup
(4-2-3-1, R-L) - GK: Dayne St. Clair; DJ Taylor, Michael Boxall, Brent Kallman, Bakaye Dibassy; Wil Trapp, Hassani Dotson; Robin Lod, Emanuel Reynoso, Abu Danladi; Luis Amarilla