Austin FC's historic postseason campaign continues, with the Verde & Black defeating Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas at home in the opening two rounds to set up a Western Conference Final showdown against top-seeded Los Angeles FC.
The match will kick off at 2 p.m. CT/12 p.m. PT on Sunday, October 30 at Banc of California Stadium, with the winner earning the Western Conference title and a trip to MLS Cup next weekend.
Austin FC Outlook
Austin FC might be entering Sunday’s match as the underdog on paper, but there are plenty of reasons for Verde & Black supporters to feel confident. During the regular season, Austin was the only team to beat LAFC twice, and one of only two teams to beat them at Banc of California Stadium.
The slate will of course be wiped clean this weekend, and both teams are different from the ones that met in May and August. Midfielder Diego Fagundez figures to be a key player in the game, having contributed to 5 of Austin’s 8 all-time goals against LAFC (three goals, two assists). Brad Stuver, Sebastián Driussi, Ruben Gabrielsen, and Maxi Urruti all performed exceptionally well in prior victories over LAFC this season too.
The Verde & Black’s win over Dallas last week made them just the third expansion team in MLS history to advance in its first two rounds of postseason play in club history. Players, coaching staff, and fans alike still have their eyes on MLS Cup though, and becoming only the second expansion team to be crowned league champions within their first two seasons.
Be sure not to turn this one off early. 12 of 15 goals scored all-time in matches between Austin FC and LAFC have come in second halves, and eight of those were scored after the 60th minute.
LAFC won the Supporters’ Shield as MLS’ best regular season team. It marked the second time the Black-and-Gold have lifted that trophy in their five-year history, though the team will also be aiming to find postseason success (and an MLS Cup) to match.
The California club turned a lot of heads in the summer transfer window when it brought in international stars Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini. But Denis Bouanga has been the team’s most impactful arrival of late. The French forward scored the goal which clinched the Shield for LAFC, and a brace in their Western Conference Semifinal win over rivals LA Galaxy.
Cristian Arango - who netted the 93rd-minute winner for LAFC in that win over the Galaxy - has also been a consistent performer. He has 31 league goals since his debut last year, second-most of any MLS player in that span.
LAFC’s only two postseason wins in club history have both been at home against the Galaxy in the 2019 and 2022 Western Conference Semifinals. The team’s regular season home record of 50 wins, 20 draws, and nine losses is impressive, but it has been slightly more vulnerable in the postseason, winning two and losing two of four all-time playoff matches at Banc of California Stadium.
Probable LAFC Lineup
(4-3-3, R-L) - GK: Maxime Crepeau; Ryan Hollingshead, Jesus Murillo, Eddie Segura, Diego Palacios; Jose Cifuentes, Ilie Sanchez, Kellyn Acosta; Carlos Vela, Cristian Arango, Denis Bouanga