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The two western conference sides have only got seven points between them but one needs the win more badly than the other. Real Salt Lake are currently in seventh place on the western conference standings and can’t afford to drop more points with the regular season about to end.
Austin FC are currently in second place on the western conference standings but are woefully out of form at the moment. They are the slight favorites heading into this match but it means little considering Real Salt Lake are more desperately in need of a win heading into this match. The sides have only met three times before with Real Salt Lake coming out on top twice and Austin FC coming out on top the other time. We’re just edging towards Real Salt Lake for this game.
The last match between the two sides took place back in May with Real Salt Lake coming out on top with a score of 2-1.
It was a frustrating day for Austin FC, who had taken the lead in the 24th minute thanks to a Alexander Ring strike but it was all for nothing after Daniel Pereira got sent off in the 48th minute. The tide of the game shifted ever so quickly with Maikel Chang scoring the equalizer just seven minutes later before Andrew Brody scored the winner in the 88th minute.
Real Salt Lake will have taken a lot of confidence from that tie and will be confident that they can do something similar again.
Austin FC lost their third game in a row to Seattle Sounders on the weekend. It no longer seems like a little blip with Seattle Sounders making easy work of it in the end. Raul Ruidiaz got a brace within 34 minutes and then it was just a case of holding onto what they had.
Things got worse in the second half for Austin FC, Ruben Gabrielsen was unfortunate to put the ball in the back of his own net to give the Seattle Sounders a resounding 3-0 victory. There are now going to be big question marks around Austin FC’s playoff pedigree.
Austin FC need to make some changes for the upcoming game and it has to start from the back. It has been two games now where they’ve conceded three goals and that is simply not the standard expected of a side that looked like it could top the western conference table at one point.
There might not be a lot on the line in the upcoming games for Austin FC but they are starting to pick up some bad habits and it’s hard to get rid of complacency once it starts to set in within the squad. They needed to become harder to score against again. The quality from the forward line will follow.
Sebastian Driussi looked like the heavy favorite to end up with the MLS golden boot just a few weeks back but the goals have dried for him and Austin FC in the last couple of weeks.
Hany Mukhtar has taken over as the top scorer for the season and it doesn’t look like Driussi will be able to catch up to him now. He’s been fantastic for most of this season and it’d be a shame for Austin FC and himself, if that didn’t materialize into something more.
He needs to go back to basics and just wait for his chances in the box instead of overthinking things. His underlying numbers suggested he was overperforming the whole time but it’s still a bit odd to go without a goal for two weeks now.
Freddy Kleeman is the only player out. He’s got an ACL injury and won’t be back till December.
Real Salt Lake played out a 0-0 stalemate against DC United over the weekend. The result will ultimately go down as a disappointment for Real Salt Lake. The team desperately needed the points and DC United aren’t exactly the strongest side in the league.
They’ll now have to go on the road to teams like Austin FC to get the points, which goes to show what a missed opportunity this was. In Real Salt Lake’s defense, David Ochoa had a fantastic game in goal for DC United, making seven saves on the night, so it wasn’t for a lack of trying that they ended up drawing for Real Salt Lake.
Ochoa was excellent for DC United in the last match but Real Salt Lake’s woes in front of goal have been apparent all season.
Sergio Cordova has been their top scorer this season with just eight goals to his name, which is 12 fewer than the man leading the line for Austin FC. There isn’t a lack of creativity in the final third with Justin Meram registering six assists this season. It’s clear which areas need investing in the coming season. Real Salt Lake will just be hoping that this doesn’t cost them a place in the playoffs this season.
With 10 draws to their name and three in their last six matches in the MLS, Real Salt Lake games can be a really frustrating watch. Their inability to decide on games comes from a more cautious approach. They can’t really afford to be so cautious in the coming games.
They need to be a bit more expansive or the teams below them will definitely catch up with very few games to do. The manager and players need to be a bit braver in their play.
They’re facing an Austin FC side that’s lost some of its shine in recent games and have been overperforming all season anyway. There’s no real need to show them a lot of respect in this match. They need to go in there and make a statement in the early minutes of the match, take control of it, and the chances will come. This is a must-win game for the side, they can’t afford to wait for easier ties and go with a safety-first approach.
Left-back Zack Farnsworth has been out since February. Central midfielder Damir Kreilach has been out since April with a back injury. Center-forward Bobby Wood has been out with a tear in his abductor muscle since June.
|Teams||Austin FC vs Real Salt Lake|
|Time||Wednesday, September 14 at 8.15 pm ET onwards|
|How to watch||ESPN+, DAZN, KBVO and KMYU|
Varun is a web journalist who has been writing on sports for 13 years. He took a shine for the MLS during the 2021 season and has been following it and writing about it since, alongside his work involving the English Premier League, La Liga, and the Serie A. He is deeply interested in soccer analytics and strategy and has aspirations to move into coaching at some point. Email: [email protected]More info on Varun Shetty
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