Coming off of a statement road win over LAFC that saw the Verde & Black return to the top of both the MLS Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings, Austin FC heads back home this weekend to host Orlando City SC at Q2 Stadium (kickoff at 7:00 p.m. CT).

Orlando has made its own strong start to the season ahead of the first-ever meeting between the two clubs, and ATXFC will hope for a similar result to the only other time it faced Floridian opposition: a 5-1 win over Inter Miami CF earlier this year.

Austin FC Outlook

There was no better way for Austin to snap a two-game losing streak than its 2-1 road victory against LAFC on Wednesday night. Prior to that match, LAFC had yet to lose at home and occupied first place in the Supporters’ Shield, a spot which the Verde & Black claimed by virtue of their victory.

Goalkeeper Brad Stuver, who made six saves on his return from injury, called it “a statement game”, and it’s certainly a result that will put the rest of the league on notice. It was a night of many noticeable Austin FC firsts - 17-year-old Owen Wolff became the first Homegrown player to start for the Club. Jhojan Valencia recorded his first assist in Verde & Black. ATXFC won for the first time in the Pacific time zone.

Austin’s two Designated Players on the pitch, Alex Ring and Sebastián Driussi, each put in excellent shifts as well. Ring stuck to his defensive tasks, playing a deeper-lying role than he has done so far this season and winning possession a team-high nine times. Driussi was both a creative and physical force, setting up three chances (including an audacious rabona assist for Diego Fagundez’s game-winner) and winning 12 duels.

This is just the beginning of a long stretch of road matches for the Verde & Black. Despite just traveling for back-to-back games, Austin still has 5 of its next 7 away from home, making points at a premium for Sunday’s match at Q2.

Orlando City SC Outlook

With 20 points through 12 matches, Orlando sits fourth in the Eastern Conference and is one of the top teams in MLS through the opening third of the season. Head Coach Óscar Pareja’s side has lost only 1 of 6 road games and only 1 of 3 against Western Conference opponents, meaning Sunday won’t be easy for ATXFC.

Like the LA Galaxy (Austin’s last opponent at Q2 Stadium), Orlando tends to keep games low-scoring, with 14 goals scored and 15 allowed. It’s also a team that’s good at protecting leads, having not lost yet this season after scoring first.

Nine different players have scored for OCSC in 2022, but none have more than two goals. The squad boasts plenty of talented creators though, with Facundo Torres (four assists) and Alexandre Pato (three assists) both likely to feature.

If Austin can keep those players quiet and get off to a strong start on Sunday, they should set themselves up well for success.

Probable Orlando City SC Lineup

(4-2-3-1, R-L) - GK: Pedro Gallese; Ruan, Rodrigo Schlegel, Robin Jansson, Joao Moutinho; Junior Urso, Cesar Araujo; Alexandre Pato, Mauricio Pereyra, Facundo Torres; Ercan Kara