Following the FIFA international break which saw a two-week gap between MLS matches for Austin FC, the Verde & Black return to action on Saturday night. Austin will play its penultimate regular season match north of the border against Vancouver Whitecaps FC, the team’s third all-time match on Canadian soil (kickoff at 9:00 p.m. CT/7:00 p.m. PT).
Austin FC Outlook
Austin FC took care of two bits of important business at home in the week leading up to the international break. First, a 3-0 win over Real Salt Lake - courtesy of a hat trick by Moussa Djitté - secured the Club’s first-ever MLS postseason berth before a 1-1 draw with Nashville SC clinched home-field advantage in the first round for the Verde & Black.
With one point from its final two matches vs. Vancouver and then Colorado on October 9, Austin can clinch second place in the Western Conference with a single point, but the team approaches the homestretch hungry to enter the playoffs in good form.
When Austin and Vancouver met earlier this season, Head Coach Josh Wolff’s side ran out 3-0 winners, with Maxi Urruti bagging a brace and Sebastián Driussi adding a goal in the second half. Austin’s only previous visit to Canada this season also went well, when the team picked up a 1-0 victory over CF Montréal in June.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC Outlook
Despite the Verde & Black’s previous successes against Canadian opposition this season, the team will expect a tough test against a Vancouver side that won each of its last two matches, boasts a strong home record at BC Place, and is in desperate need of points to climb above the playoff line.
After an up-and-down summer, the Whitecaps seem to be finding their footing just in time to make a bid for the seventh and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Currently in tenth place and five points behind Minnesota United, Head Coach Vanni Sartini and his team know that anything less than two wins in their final two matches will spell elimination from postseason contention.
Containing Lucas Cavallini and Ryan Gauld will be key to Austin’s game plan. Between them, Cavallini (eight goals, two assists) and Gauld (seven goals, eight assists) have contributed to 25 of Vancouver’s 38 goals scored this season.
Probable Vancouver Whitecaps FC Lineup
(4-4-2, R-L) - GK: Thomas Hasal; Jake Nerwinski, Ranko Veselinovic, Tristan Blackmon, Luis Martins; Julian Gressel, Andres Cubas, Russell Teibert, Ryan Gauld; Brian White, Pedro Vite