Welcome to MLS, Austin FC. As the 27th franchise of the league, the Texan club will kick off their debut season with a daunting match against title-favorites LAFC.
Austin seems to have done some of their homework early in the preseason — and they’ve brought on some interesting starting options — but will it be enough to claim a victory in their first official appearance?
The odds are undoubtedly against them.
LAFC remains a step too high for the debut team, and though Austin looks like they could potentially surprise some skeptics with a playoff appearance later in the year, there will need to be a bit of patience before they eventually find their footing. On the other end of the pitch, LAFC have a point to prove as well after a disappointing 2020.
LAFC for the win (-225)
Check out the latest predictions and picks for the MLS Cup Winner!
|LAFC vs Austin FC Information|
|What||LAFC vs Austin FC|
|Where||Banc of California Stadium (Los Angeles, CA)|
|When||Saturday, April 17th at 6:00pm ET|
|How to Watch||Fox, Fox Deportes|
So begins LAFC’s new season.
Following an encouraging 2019 that had them finishing as the winners of the Supporters’ Shield, the Southern California team later went on to disenchant fans with 2020 that had them drop all the way down to 7th in the Western Conference standings. Injuries to some key players — most notably 2019 MLS MVP Carlos Vela — impeded what was expected to be another noteworthy season.
And yet, by the end of 2020, there were signs of hope. In the last edition of the Concacaf Champions League, LAFC were able to fight their way to the final of the tournament. Although they ultimately lost to Tigres 2-1 in the championship match on December 22nd, LAFC highlighted that they were in fact a true powerhouse in the North American region.
A few months later, LAFC now look fully fit with most of their starters ready to return to the pitch. With their trademark all-out attacking approach, they’ll be sure to welcome Austin with at least a couple of goals.
I’m not trying to take too much away from Austin either. On paper, they do look like a decent team that’ll probably fare much better than most MLS clubs in their debut season.
Cecilio Dominguez has all of the talents to become a marquee player in the league, midfielder Alex Ring is arguably one of the best in his position, and there’s a lot of excitement about 21-year-old Rodney Redes.
Nevertheless, there are reports that Redes might not be fit for their season-opener. In defense, there are worries about the caliber of options that are available for manager Josh Wolff — who by the way, will be on the sidelines for the first time ever as an MLS coach.
It could be an interesting project for Austin that is ultimately a success, but it needs time.
With all due respect to Austin’s Wolff, there’s a noteworthy difference in experience and pedigree when looking at his managerial opponent this weekend.
LAFC’s Bob Bradley has coached two national teams, three European clubs abroad and has also claimed three MLS Coach of the Year awards. With a tendency to use a direct 4-3-3 formation that utilizes plenty of options thrown forward, Bradley thrives off of overwhelming opposition in their own half of the field.
If the reports are true that Wolff may try to counter what LAFC is doing with an attack-minded 4-3-3 of his own, he may not last long in this weekend’s encounter.
And even if he sits back or attempts more of a mid-block, the odds are that Bradley won’t have too much trouble finding a way past the questionable defensive line.
It’s a simple yet obvious statement. Coming off a lackluster 2020 — which of course was impacted by injuries and a delay due to COVID-19 — the former league MVP must pick up his form.
Looking ahead to this weekend’s season-opener, the good news is that Vela appears confident about the ongoing partnership that he is building with his teammates.
“I feel great,” mentioned Vela in a press conference earlier this week.
The more time you spend with players you have more chemistry, you can play better. You can prepare [for] a season in a better way. So I feel our team is stronger than other years.
And with plenty of skillful teammates in support, goals should easily follow for the Mexican winger.
MLS vs Liga MX Format, Attendance, Salaries & Ratings
MLS | 9 November - 05:16 | Richard Janvrin
Los Angeles FC vs Philadelphia Union: Vela And Chiellini Have to Get the Job Done
MLS | 3 November - 07:18 | Varun Shetty
MLS Outright Winner: Who's the Top Pick?
MLS | 27 October - 09:46 | Varun Shetty
Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
© Rebel Penguin ApS 2023 (a subsidiary of Gaming Innovation Group Inc.)
We support responsible gambling. If you feel like you're losing control over your gambling experience, call 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ, PA, WV), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), 1-800-BETS-OFF (IA), 1-800-522-4700 (NV), 1-800-522-4700 (CO, TN), 1-855-2CALLGA (IL), 1-800-270-7117 (MI).
WSN.com is registered with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) under affiliate vendor ID 89744, with the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) under certificate of registration number SWR-000148, approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board as a gaming service provider, under certificate registration number 117656-1, possesses a Vendor Minor sports betting license from the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission (account number 94414163), granted a vendor registration number VR007603-20-001 by the Michigan Gaming Control Board, an interim Sports Wagering Supplier license, under license number SWS 066, issued by the West Virginia Lottery Commission, a sports betting vendor registration, under registration number #100400, issued by the Director of Gaming Licensing and Investigations of the Virginia Lottery to operate in the State of Virginia, and a Vendor Registration issued by the Sports Wagering Committee of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation.
Advertising disclosure: WSN contains links to online retailers on its website. When people click on our affiliate links and make purchases, WSN earns a commission from our partners, including ESPN and various sportsbooks.