COLPreview

It's the midway point of the 2022 Major League Soccer season, with 17 matches played and 17 to go. Austin FC rounded off the first half of its campaign with yet another gritty away win, beating Charlotte FC 1-0 courtesy of a wonder-strike from Dani Pereira.

The victory - Austin’s fifth on the road and fifth clean sheet - moved the Verde & Black to second place in the Supporters’ Shield standings, as one of only two MLS teams to have surpassed the 30-point mark at this stage of the season. Now, Head Coach Josh Wolff’s side looks ahead to the second of three straight away matches, a trip west to take on the Colorado Rapids on Monday (kickoff at 8:00 p.m. CT/7:00 p.m. MT).

Austin FC Outlook

ATXFC’s 2022 away record is nothing short of remarkable. Only one team in MLS has collected more points from road matches than Austin’s 16, as the Verde & Black return to the site of their first-ever away victory on the Fourth of July.

Pereira’s goal stole the show against Charlotte, a sparkling moment of quality in what was otherwise a grind of a match. It was also a moment of redemption for Pereira, who missed out on last weekend’s derby vs. FC Dallas through red card suspension.

“This one was special,” said Pereira after the match. “I owe it to my teammates from Montréal, from letting them down, and to my parents that were here in the stands. I haven’t seen them in a while, especially high school friends, college friends - I had like 50 people here just for me and I think this was the most meaningful goal.”

While it was Austin’s second-consecutive 1-0 win on the road, the team has shown throughout the first half of the season it can win in a variety of ways. Of its nine wins, five came away and four at home. In six it had the majority of possession, and in three it did not. Six were by one goal, and three were by multiple goals.

The team is also finding goal-scoring productivity from a variety of sources, with 11 different players having scored - already equaling Austin’s total from the entirety of last season. That bodes well for the coming weeks, with a few names on the injury list and a number of quick turnaround times between matches, including the three-day break between Charlotte and Colorado.

Colorado Rapids Outlook

The Rapids were one of only a few MLS teams without a midweek match last week, meaning Austin will need to be prepared to face a side which will be better rested than they are. Colorado currently sits near the bottom of the Western Conference table, with 19 points collected from 16 matches.

At home though, they’ve been excellent, with just one loss and four goals conceded through eight matches at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. It’s not a team that scores in bunches - its 17 goals are second-fewest in the Western Conference - but still has plenty of capable attackers, including Gyasi Zardes, Diego Rubio, and Jonathan Lewis.

Further back, MLS veterans like Mark-Anthony Kaye, Lalas Abubakar, Auston Trusty, and Keegan Rosenberry make the Rapids a tough team to break down.

Fans of the Verde & Black will remember last season’s first visit to Colorado well, when the team recorded both the first goals and the first victory in Club history on April 24, 2021. A similar performance this time around would help Austin maintain its strong position in the playoff race, a race which the Rapids are aiming to join with a positive result of their own.

Probable Colorado Rapids Lineup

(3-4-1-2, R-L) - GK: William Yarbrough; Lalas Abubakar, Danny Wilson, Auston Trusty; Keegan Rosenberry, Jack Price, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Anthony Markanich; Diego Rubio; Gyasi Zardes, Jonathan Lewis