Austin FC returns to Q2 Stadium for the fifth home match of its 2022 campaign this Saturday, as the Verde & Black welcome Vancouver Whitecaps FC to Texas for a 7:30 p.m. CT kickoff. ATXFC enters the match in a fine run of league form, having won its last two matches and riding a four-match unbeaten streak.
The Whitecaps took narrow victories in both meetings between the two sides last season, and Austin will surely be hungry to put those results behind them with another win on home turf.
Austin FC Outlook
Last time out in MLS action, ATXFC pulled off a thrilling late comeback on the road against D.C. United, scoring three times in the final 10 minutes to erase a two-goal deficit and win 3-2. While that result put an end to the Club’s stretch without an away victory, the team’s form at Q2 Stadium has been just about perfect.
The Verde & Black are 7-1-1 in their last nine home games dating back to last season, scoring 21 goals and allowing six in that span. So far this year, Austin has won three of its four games at Q2 Stadium and drew the other - good for the best home record in MLS on goal difference.
The play of prolific pairing Sebastián Driussi and Diego Fagundez has been critical to the early season success that sees Austin FC currently occupy second place in the Western Conference standings. Driussi (five goals, two assists) is tied for the lead of the MLS Golden Boot race, while Fagundez (five assists, one goal) is tied for the league-lead in assists. The duo combined for a goal in Austin’s Open Cup match on Wednesday as well.
Saturday is an opportunity for Austin to win three consecutive MLS matches for the first time in the Club’s short history, and for the Verde & Black to take over top spot in the Western Conference should they win and Los Angeles FC drop points away against FC Cincinnati.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC Outlook
Vancouver reached the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2021 but isn’t off to a great start in 2022, winning only one of its opening seven matches. The Whitecaps have yet to earn a point on the road, with a quartet of away losses in which the team scored three goals and allowed 11.
However, with the exception of a 4-0 defeat to Columbus, VWFC was competitive in all of its matches so far this season. They were unlucky not to earn a draw against Montreal last weekend when VAR chalked off a late equalizer, and play an attractive brand of soccer under Head Coach Vanni Sartini.
Midfielder Sebastian Berhalter, who spent last season on loan with Austin FC, has featured in six of the club’s seven matches this season, starting four. Berhalter and Canadian international Russell Teibert form the Whitecaps’ pivot in midfield, an area of the pitch which will go a long way in determining which team picks up three points on Saturday.
Probable Vancouver Whitecaps FC Lineup
(3-4-1-2, R-L) - GK: Thomas Hasal; Tristan Blackmon, Ranko Veselinovic, Jakob Nerwinski; Javain Brown, Russell Teibert, Sebastian Berhalter, Ryan Raposo; Ryan Gauld; Deiber Caicedo, Brian White