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Austin FC is off to a historic start to the 2022 Major League Soccer season, winning at home and scoring five goals in each of its first two matches to begin the year. Its 10 goals scored are the most by any club in MLS history through the opening two matches of a season, and the Verde & Black sit at the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings at this very early stage with 6 points from a possible 6 and a +9 goal difference.

ATXFC faces its first road test and Western Conference opponent of the nascent campaign on Saturday, as Head Coach Josh Wolff will lead his side against the Portland Timbers at Providence Park (9 p.m. CT). Last season, Austin recorded its first-ever goal and first-ever victory at Q2 Stadium against Portland, beating the Timbers 4-1 on July 1. ATXFC defeated Portland again at Q2 Stadium 3-1 on August 21, but fell to the Timbers in Portland on the final day of the 2021 season.

The Verde & Black will look to swing the all-time series further in their favor on Saturday, and maintain their grip on top spot in the table.

Austin FC Outlook

Another week, another big win at home for Austin. ATXFC dismantled Inter Miami 5-1 at Q2 Stadium on Sunday, with Sebastián Driussi (two goals, one assist), Ethan Finlay (two goals), and Diego Fagundez (two assists) leading the charge offensively.

Fagundez and Driussi have formed a particularly effective combination so far this season, with the former directly assisting the latter for a goal in each of Austin’s first two matches, and playing a major part in the buildup to the Argentine’s second goal against Miami.

While the team is flying offensively, the defense has been solid as well, allowing just one goal from 1.92 expected goals allowed in two matches. The center back duo of Julio Cascante and rookie Kipp Keller have been effective in limiting opposition chances, and Cascante contributed at the other end of the pitch against Miami as well, powering home a header for the team’s second goal.

Goalkeeper Brad Stuver made five saves against Miami, and the midfield duo of Daniel Pereira and Alex Ring were consistently difficult to play through. Pereira and left back Žan Kolmanič each have two assists through two games, as the team looks to be benefitting from the experience of having a full preseason together under their belts.

Despite a tough run of form away from home in the latter part of last season, Austin won 2 of its first 3 road matches in 2021, and will be hoping for more of the same on Saturday.

Portland Timbers Outlook

The Timbers won the Western Conference Final last season before falling just short to New York City FC in the MLS Cup Final, and are among the favorites to make a run at the league’s top prizes again this year. Head Coach Giovanni Savarese’s team fought to a 2-2 draw against defending Supporters’ Shield winners the New England Revolution in their opener, and conceded a late equalizer to draw 1-1 with Los Angeles FC in Week 2.

Portland forward Yimmi Chara scored spectacular bicycle kick goals in both of those matches, and is certainly someone ATXFC will need to keep in check if they hope to leave Oregon with a positive result, along with his brother Diego Chara, one of the top defensive midfielders in MLS. Portland has fielded the same starting XI through its first two games, but will need to make at least one change as left back Claudio Bravo will be out after receiving a red card against LAFC.

Entering Providence Park and leaving with points proved to be one of the tallest tasks in MLS last season, as no club in the Western Conference picked up more points from its home matches (35) than the Timbers. To combat that trend, the Verde & Black will look to pressure a defense which allowed 52 goals in 2021, the second-most of any team which made the playoffs.

Probable Portland Timbers Lineup

(4-4-2, R-L) - GK: Aljaz Ivacic; Josecarlos Van Rankin, Zac McGraw, Bill Tuiloma, Justin Rasmussen; Santiago Moreno, Diego Chara, Cristhian Paredes, Dairon Asprilla; Yimmi Chara, Jaroslaw Niezgoda