My apologies, friends, for not posting mid-week for the Seattle game. The day job is impinging on my soccer time at the moment. But let’s take a look at Austin FC as we await our first regular season MLS match against our new rivals. The new kids from central Texas enter this match with a record of 4W-4D-8L – good for 16 points and 12th in the West. Most recently they bested Houston on Wednesday night after dropping three in a row. The last time we played a team that on paper was weaker than us, we walked away with a draw. Let’s hope that our recent string of positive results continues on Saturday.
First, after opening the season with a long but fairly successful road trip, Austin has played their last six matches at home, so this trip to Dallas is their first road game in several weeks. Also, the result against Houston included a red card against the visitors that gave Austin an advantage for about 70 minutes. Tomas Pochettino received MLS player of the week honors with two goals and Cecilio Dominguez added another.
However, despite scoring seven goals in their last five matches, Austin was held scoreless in three of them. To their credit, they also only gave up seven goals in those five matches. They rank in the top ten in Goals Against and have only conceded one penalty kick on the season. Despite not keeping a clean sheet, their defense (and Brad Stuver in particular) has kept them in the matches. They’re beatable –but they won’t beat themselves.
|3118||Passes in Opponents’ Half||2709|
|211/65||Shots/Shots on Target||216/75|
|-4.11 (Stuver)||G-xG for Keepers||.83 (Maurer)|
Keep in mind that Austin has only played 16 matches and yet they still lead Dallas in terms of passes completed – this is a team that takes care of the ball. However, as even head coach Josh Wolff concedes, they have struggled to score. Recent signing from Zenit St. Petersburg Sebastian Driussi may be available for selection on Saturday, but he has only this week been available to train. In goal, Brad Stuver is besting every keeper in MLS who isn’t Andre Blake.
Keys to the Match:
1) Keep the Faith: after results against the LA Galaxy, Sporting KC, and Seattle, Dallas can’t afford to relax against Austin – and it’s easy to understand how a team could have a mental letdown when we feel like we should win. But we’re at home, and we need to finish business. Let’s keep the front four intact and attack Austin’s backline. If Hedges is ready for a start – great. If he’s only ready for a longer sub appearance – ok. The defense has been holding the last couple of weeks.
2) Cecilio Dominguez leads Austin with four goals. Four. It just emphasizes what everyone knows about Austin – which is that they struggle to score. DP signing Tomas Pochettino has two goals and they both came last week. If I’m Josh Wolff, I’m putting Driussi in because Austin needs goals. Even more recent signing, McKinzie Gaines is unlikely to participate. If I’m Luchi, I’m preaching patience because Austin just hasn’t been dangerous.
3) Like FC Dallas, Austin is playing their third game in eight days (this seems such a common refrain of late). Dallas is a deeper team and should take advantage of that depth. Let’s use our subs. Keep the midfield fresh. Obrian should have chances late.
Projected Line Up: 4-1-4-1
Tomas Pochettino - Sebastian Berhalter – Diego Fagundez - Rodney Redes
Kolmanic – Matt Besler – Cascante - Jimenez
OUT: Aaron Schoenfeld (left knee). Ulises Segura (left knee), Ben Sweat (ACL), Danny Hoesen (left hip)
QUESTIONABLE: McKinze Gaines (left adductor strain), Daniel Pereira (left rectus abdominis strain)