In one of the most anticipated matches of the 2022 Major League Soccer season so far, Austin FC will take on Los Angeles FC on Wednesday night (kickoff at 9:30 p.m. CT) at Banc of California Stadium. Austin and LAFC are in third and first place in the Western Conference respectively, with just three points between them.

The two teams are tied for the highest-scoring attacks in MLS with 23 goals scored through 11 matches each, setting the stage for what should be a highly-entertaining contest.

Austin FC Outlook

Wednesday evening is a chance for the Verde & Black to reclaim top spot in the Western Conference Standings. Head Coach Josh Wolff’s side can do so with a win over LAFC and an FC Dallas loss or draw, who play Vancouver Whitecaps FC at roughly the same time.

Last Friday, the Club announced a three-year contract extension for Wolff, who has done an excellent job implementing both a tactical identity and a locker room culture during his time in Austin thus far. He wasn’t the only Wolff to impress last week though. 17-year-old Owen Wolff made the longest appearance of his nascent MLS career to date, coming on as a substitute in the 60th minute of Austin’s match against RSL.

Wolff did terrific work on both sides of the ball with the team down a man. He completed 11 of 12 passes and created two big chances, while also winning three duels, one tackle and recording two successful dribbles.

With Dani Pereira set to miss Wednesday’s match through suspension, ATXFC might look to both Wolff and Jhojan Valencia for important contributions in the middle of the park.

Los Angeles FC Outlook

Like Austin, LAFC fell to defeat in the Rocky Mountains last weekend, losing 2-0 to the Colorado Rapids. But the California club still sits atop the Supporters’ Shield standings at this early stage of the season, and have been excellent at home, with four wins, two draws, and no losses at Banc of California Stadium this season.

The team’s most eye-catching name is Mexican international and 2019 MLS MVP Carlos Vela, who leads the team in goal contributions with four goals and three assists. Beyond Vela though, it’s a well-balanced side under Head Coach Steve Cherundolo, with talent and experience at just about every position.

The roster contains multiple key contributors acquired from other MLS clubs, such as midfielders Kellyn Acosta and Ilie Sánchez, defender Ryan Hollingshead, and goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau. All that veteran leadership could be behind LAFC's statistical strength late in matches - in second halves this season, the team has scored 15 goals and allowed only one.

That's in sharp contrast to first halves, when LAFC has scored eight and allowed 11. With that in mind, Austin will look to strike early and remain focused for all 90 minutes, knowing no result is safe until the final whistle.

Probable Los Angeles FC Lineup

(4-1-4-1, R-L) - GK: Maxime Crépeau; Franco Escobar, Sebastien Ibeagha, Mamadou Fall, Diego Palacios; Ilie Sánchez; Carlos Vela, José Cifuentes, Kellyn Acosta, Kwadwo Opoku; Cristian Arango