SAFCMatchPreview

It's an exciting time for the Verde & Black and their supporters. Coming off back-to-back MLS victories, including an incredible late comeback away against D.C. United on Saturday, Austin FC will play its first-ever Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match on Wednesday, April 20.

ATXFC is set to make the short trip south down I-35 to take on USL Championship side San Antonio FC at Toyota Field. The first meeting between the two Central Texas clubs will take place in the Third Round of the Open Cup, a tournament which sees teams from all different levels of American soccer compete against each other in a single elimination format.

To win the tournament and earn the coveted trophy, prize money, and berth in next year’s Concacaf Champions League, Austin FC will need to win six matches, and that road begins Wednesday night in San Antonio.

Austin FC Outlook

Austin enters its first multi-match week of the season in terrific form. The Verde & Black are on a two-match winning streak and are unbeaten in four, having not lost for over a month. The Club’s last two victories each showcased something different from its first two - against Minnesota, the ability to grind out a result in a game with few chances, and in D.C., the spirit and togetherness necessary to fight back late.

The comeback was a team effort, but the performances of Danny Hoesen (who netted his first goal for the Club after missing most of last season through injury), Ruben Gabrielsen (who scored the winner in the 90th minute), and Diego Fagundez (who provided the assists for both Hoesen and Gabrielsen’s goals) in particular stood out.

Now, the group will continue to be tested in new ways, as for the first time Austin will compete on two fronts simultaneously. The Open Cup could present as many as three midweek matches between now and the June international break, in addition to an MLS midweek match on May 18 away to Los Angeles FC.

To this point, the Verde & Black have been on a steady cadence of one match per week, but the increase in fixture congestion means Head Coach Josh Wolff will need the entire squad ready to perform. That shouldn’t be an issue, with ATXFC having multiple options at every position on the pitch.

The Open Cup is an excellent opportunity for the Club to win its first trophy, and despite facing lower division opposition on Wednesday, it’s a match Austin won’t take lightly. Head Coach Josh Wolff, Assistant Coach Davy Arnaud, and striker Maxi Urruti have all won the Open Cup in the past, and are well aware of what it takes to be successful in this unique tournament.

San Antonio FC Outlook

Austin FC’s nearest professional soccer neighbor, San Antonio FC is one of the top teams in the USL Championship, the second tier of American soccer just below MLS. SAFC finished in second in its division last season and is off to a strong start this year, winning five of its opening six matches.

To reach the Third Round, SAFC defeated local qualifier D’Feeters Kicks SC in the Second Round, winning 3-1 at home led by a brace from 17-year-old academy product Henrik Sakshaug. The team has a number of players with MLS experience, including forwards Justin Dhillon and Santiago Patiño, midfielder PC, and defender Connor Maloney.

Maloney and the rest of the team’s defense, in front of either goalkeeper option of Jordan Farr or Matt Cardone, have been the team’s strong point this season, allowing only four goals through six USL Championship matches. If the Verde & Black can find a way to break through the SAFC backline early, it could set the team up well for a second-straight success on the road and a berth in the Round of 32 next month.

Probable San Antonio FC Lineup

(3-4-1-2, R-L) - GK: Matt Cardone; Fabien Garcia, Jasser Khemiri, Mitchell Taintor; Carter Manley, PC, Connor Maloney, Diedie Traore; Justin Dhillon; Elliot Collier, Deshane Beckford