Verdict: Home win
Best odds: 2
Austin FC will be hosting Los Angeles FC at the Q2 Stadium on what will be Wednesday evening in the USA, or just after midnight in Europe. It will be the 13th MLS season for the home side, the 12th for the visitors.
Founded in 2018, Austin are competing in their first ever MLS campaign, three years into their existence. So far, their performances have been pleasing to the eye – they play technically rich football, though the results they’ve picked up on the way haven’t exactly reflected that. With three wins, four draws and five defeats, Josh Wolff’s team sit in 10th place in the Western Conference with 13 points to their name, the same tally as Portland Timbers and Real Salt Lake in eighth and ninth, respectively.
Austin may have won their last match, their first ever triumph at the Q2 by 4-1 over Portland, but they lost one (2-0 away to Minnesota) and drew four of the previous five (0-0 away to Seattle Sounders, 1-1 away to Sporting KC, 0-0 at home against San Jose, and 0-0 at home against Columbus Crew).
But against Portland, John Gallagher, Diego Fagundez, Alexander Ring and Hector Jimenez all got on the scoresheet, with Jeremy Ebobisse scoring the only goal for the visitors.
The list of players Wolff isn’t currently able to count on is quite extensive; forwards Danny Hoesen (hip) and Aaron Schoenfeld (knee), defenders Nick Lima (hamstring) and Ben Sweat (ACL), and midfielder Ulises Segura (knee).
On top of that, Gallagher will miss this match as well, after he was replaced against Portland with a foot problem and seen on crutches later, and Jared Stroud is the man likeliest to take his place in the starting XI.
Los Angeles FC
Los Angeles, more commonly referred to as LA FC, were established in 2014 and joined the MLS as part on an expansion in 2018. They were crowned the MLS champions in 2019, their only title so far. In 2020, they finished seventh in the Western Conference.
LA FC are currently fifth in the table, but with only two points more than Austin in 10th. Minnesota (sixth) and Houston Dynamo (seventh) both have 15 points, the same as LA FC, and then comes the group of teams with 13 which includes Austin.
As for their last six matches, Bob Bradley’s team beat Colorado at home by 2-1, lost at home to New York City by the same scoreline, drew 1-1 at home against Houston, beat FC Dallas at home by 2-0, lost 2-1 away to Sporting KC, and beat Real Salt Lake away by 0-1. The only goal of the match was scored by Jose Cifuentes.
Captain Carlos Vela is back from a hamstring injury and he’s completed 90 minutes twice since coming back to action. He’s practically certain to start this match, but fellow forward Kwadwo Opoku and left-back Diego Palacios are unavailable.
Opoku is out with a knee injury, while Palacios just left the Copa America after his Ecuador lost the quarterfinal to Argentina on Sunday, and he’ll need a few days off.
Austin will be extremely motivated to triumph at their new home again. They will also be boosted by the prospect of climbing above LA FC if they win, and given the way they thrashed Portland, the visitors won’t find it easy to withstand their charge.
Verdict: Home win
Best odds: 2
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