Preview: Austin FC (a).
When? Sunday May 22, 5 p.m. PT, 8 p.m. ET and 1 a.m. BST (23/5).
Where? Q2 Stadium, Austin, TX.
How can I catch the action? MLS Live on ESPN+ and DAZN for residents of North America. For residents of Central Florida, Fox 35 Plus and LionNation TV. 96.9 The Game and Accion 97.9 are carrying radio commentary. The game is not currently scheduled for UK broadcast.
Orlando City will be looking to carry on from where they left off in Canada last weekend, as they travel to play their first ever game at Q2 Stadium against Austin FC. Los Verdes have been this season's surprise package thus far; an entertaining brand of attacking soccer has seen Josh Wolff's team propel themselves to the summit of both the Western Conference and Supporters Shield standings. This is going to be an incredibly tough game, against a dangerous opponent.
Austin's record at home has been very impressive so far; they have scored 15 goals, whilst only conceding 3, on their way to 4 victories in 6 games at Q2 Stadium. Their raucous support seems to be putting paid to the notion that Texas isn't a state where soccer can flourish.
This game promises to be a fascinating encounter, one where one of the best attacks in the league comes up against a team that's kept 6 clean sheets in 12 games. It's also a game whereby one of the best home teams comes up against one of the best road teams.
So, without further ado, let's get stuck into this one.
Austin have set their stall out to attack from the off this season. To be honest, they've been a breath of fresh air and have been thoroughly enjoyable to watch. I caught their game against Fort Lauderdale as well as their recent defeat to the Galaxy. They're a very creative and clinical side; they've created 24 big chances and scored 25 goals so far (figure 1). They're a team that has a pretty fluid forward line, particularly with Diego Fagundez, Sebastian Driussi and Owen Wolff behind Max Urruti up top. Los Verdes' winning goal against LAFC in the week was indicative of that fluidity (figure 2).
As much as they are good in an attacking sense, they're not amazing defensively. Particularly during moments of defensive transition; they rank 3rd bottom in MLS for successful tackles per match and 2nd bottom for interceptions per match. They're also not liable to press particularly high. Their strength is in possessing the ball (55.9% average), and picking apart opposing defences with their passing and movement, particularly on the counter offensive.
Figure 1 shows Austin's ranking in terms of big chances created, on the season so far.
Figure 2 shows Diego Fagundez's goal against LAFC in the week.
Austin FC are set to be with Frederik Kleemann, but aside from that have a fully fit squad to choose from.
Meanwhile, Orlando City are set to be without Benji Michel as well as Antonio Carlos and Silvester Van Der Water.
This section will be updated as and when new information becomes available.
Possible starting XI
I would expect Austin to set up in their familiar 4-2-3-1 formation, with the same line-up used at LAFC. They could rotate, but they rotated against RSL at the weekend, so I have a feeling they'll go unchanged, especially as they're at home.
My mind instantly pictures a Dresselian from Star Wars whenever I hear his name. Why? I have no clue, aside from the fact that the two words share a few of the same letters. And the fact I'm a total nerd, obviously... If you don't know what I'm on about, there's one sat in the rebel briefing room scene in Return of the Jedi. He's the weird ET looking guy.
Anyway, Driussi has been red hot in front of goal for Austin scoring 7 times so far this season and also creating 3 goals for his teammates. Driussi has an XG of 4.75 which tells you just how clinical he has been. The former Zenit St. Petersburg and River Plate man has also underlined his creative abilities by carving out 17 big chances for his teammates and completing 17 dribbles. Has a rating of 7.59 on fotmob.com.
Austin got their season off to a blistering start with consecutive 5 goal hauls at home, and they've remained the form team since. They have, however, lost 3 of their last 6. They hold a 7-2-3 record and sit top of the west.
Orlando, on the other hand, sit 4th in the east with a 6-2-4 record and have won 6 of their last 8 across all competitions.
*All statistics courtesy of fotmob.com.
Cover image courtesy of Orlando City SC.
B-roll and media availability footage courtesy of Orlando City SC.
Line-up graphic courtesy of chosen11.com