Playoff qualification remains the aim for Austin FC as the Verde & Black venture to the Pacific Northwest on Saturday, where they will face Seattle Sounders FC. The two teams tied in their earlier meeting this season, a 1-1 draw back in March at Q2 Stadium, and played to a scoreless draw when they played at Lumen Field last season.
Austin FC Outlook
Despite back-to-back losses, Austin remains in an excellent position in the Western Conference standings, and can clinch a playoff place with the Club’s next victory. The Seattle match offers the opportunity to do so, and would be a big boost ahead of a homestretch which will see the Verde & Black play 3 of their final 4 matches of the regular season at home.
As Austin’s sophomore season in MLS winds down, it still has everything to play for, but can also take some pride in its impressive improvement thus far. Its 20-point improvement over last season’s total is already the second-best for an expansion team in league history, and it can set a new record for the best points improvement with six more points from its final five matches.
Head Coach Josh Wolff’s squad have poured in 60 goals this season as well, second-best in MLS. That’s a far-cry from the 35 goals which were the league’s fewest in 2021. The team will need its offensive firepower in full force if it’s to earn a first win against the Sounders, against whom Austin has scored one goal in three previous matches.
Seattle Sounders FC Outlook
Seattle are one of a handful of teams hovering right around the playoff line in the Western Conference, in need of points to make sure they finish above that line at the season’s end. A 2-1 win over Houston last weekend snapped a run of five consecutive matches without a win for the Sounders as they look to make up a six-point gap to rivals Portland in seventh place.
The reigning Concacaf Champions League winners are always a tough opponent, and can hurt you in a variety of ways through the attacking trio of Jordan Morris (seven goals), Raul Ruidíaz (seven goals), and Nicolas Lodeiro (five goals).
The Sounders have qualified for the MLS Cup Playoff every year since they joined MLS in 2009, an incredible run which could come to an end if Seattle is unable to string victories together in the final weeks of its season. That should provide plenty of motivation for Brian Schmetzer’s team to bring its best in front of its fans at Lumen Field.
Probable Seattle Sounders FC Lineup
(4-2-3-1, R-L) - GK: Stefan Frei; Nouhou Tolo, Xavier Arreaga, Yeimar Gomez Andrade, Alex Roldan; Danny Leyva, Josh Atencio; Albert Rusnak, Nicolas Lodeiro, Jordan Morris; Raul Ruidiaz