Fresh off claiming the first trophy in Club history last Saturday, Austin FC is now preparing for its final inter-conference game of the 2022 MLS regular season. New York Red Bulls visit Q2 Stadium on Sunday evening (kickoff at 7:00 p.m. CT) for the first-ever meeting between the two sides.
After a very busy stretch which saw the Verde & Black play five matches in 17 days - four of which were on the road - the team will finally have a full week’s rest as it prepares for the season’s final 13 games, eight of which are at Q2 Stadium.
Austin FC Outlook
Austin enters Sunday’s contest on a Club-record seven-match unbeaten streak, with five wins and two draws since returning from the international break in mid-June. The Verde & Black claimed Copa Tejas on Saturday, earning in-state bragging rights for the year and celebrating with traveling supporters at Toyota Stadium in Frisco thanks to Diego Fagundez’s 79th-minute equalizer against FC Dallas.
During that streak, ATXFC handled injuries, suspensions, and fixture congestion with aplomb, winning four consecutive matches on the road. As the team looks forward to its return to the home comforts of Q2 Stadium, two trends in particular bode well.
First, Austin’s record against Eastern Conference opponents in 2022 is just about perfect. The Club has played seven cross-conference games this season and won six of them, drawing the other. A result against the Red Bulls would see the Verde & Black finish their slate against the Eastern Conference unbeaten, and with nearly the maximum number of possible points collected from those matches.
Second, the team’s form at home has been excellent. Austin is 9-3-2 (W-D-L) in its last 14 matches at Q2 Stadium, scoring 31 goals and allowing 12 in that span. That’s a promising sign with the majority of ATXFC’s remaining games taking place in Austin as the Club looks to clinch its first-ever playoff berth in its second season.
New York Red Bulls Outlook
Under Head Coach Gerhard Struber, the Red Bulls are one of the top teams in the MLS Eastern Conference, currently in third place on 33 points. Like Austin, New York is a strong road team, ranking second in the league in both away wins and away points (behind only the Verde & Black in both categories).
The Red Bulls are tough to break down. Their 22 goals conceded are tied for third-fewest in MLS, anchored by U.S. men’s national team center back Aaron Long. The side boasts a pair of prominent attacking threats in Lewis Morgan (nine goals) and Omir Fernandez (six assists),
New York heads to Austin in decent form, with two wins, two losses, and a draw in its last five matches. The club has the additional consideration of a U.S. Open Cup semifinal match away against Orlando City SC three days after it visits Texas, which may or may not impact squad selection at the weekend.
Two Austin FC players have plenty of familiarity with the Red Bulls: Felipe Martins, who made 100 appearances for the club and won the 2015 Supporters’ Shield, and Jared Stroud, who made 11 appearances there in 2020 after New York drafted him.
Probable New York Red Bulls Lineup
(4-2-3-1, R-L) - GK: Carlos Coronel; Tom Edwards, Sean Nealis, Aaron Long, Jon Tolkin; Frankie Amaya, Christian Casseres Jr.; Lewis Morgan, Omir Fernandez, Luqinhas; Patryk Klimala