LAFC to win (-220)
After eliminating arch-rivals LA Galaxy in the previous round, Los Angeles FC will be looking to build on the momentum and secure their first win over Austin FC this season. The two sides have met five times in the past. None of the meetings have ended in a stalemate as The Black and Gold have won three and The Oaks have won two.
However, the two victories for Austin FC have come in the league phase of the MLS this season. Despite that, Austin FC may not be able to make it three in three against LAFC in the semi-final. The winning mentality of Austin FC may have helped them against FC Dallas in the last round, but this time around, the scales are tipping towards Los Angeles FC.
Los Angeles FC faced LA Galaxy four times this season (twice in the league, once in the US Open Cup and once in the playoffs). It was not a clean sweep for either as both sides won two of these encounters. Victory in the last game will not just be a morale booster but it will help LAFC go out all guns blazing in the semis.
The Black and Gold finished 11 points clear of Austin FC in the league phase. They scored just one more goal (66) than Austin FC (65) but conceded 11 fewer than them. LAFC will be looking forward to adding another piece of silverware to their trophy cabinet this season after winning the MLS Supporters’ Shield earlier this season.
After winning 21 out of 34 games this season in the MLS league phase, Los Angeles FC finished at the top of the Western Conference, losing nine games and drawing four. They were prolific in their own backyard as they lost just two games at home all season.
One of those two losses came against their next opponents – Austin FC. LAFC will be wary of this fact and are expected to be vigilant from the first minute. Last time around, there were a few injury concerns weighing down on LAFC. This time, they will only be without long-term absentee Ismael Tajouri-Shradi. Everyone else is fit and gunning for glory.
With 38-year-old Giorgio Chiellini at the heart of defense, Los Angeles FC have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last six games in the MLS so far. However, they have lost just two out of the last six games and failed to score on just one occasion.
This adds a little more pressure and responsibility on LAFC’s frontline. Cristian Arango and Carlos Vela are in scintillating form in front of goal. Arango, who scored the 93rd minute winner against LA Galaxy, has scored 17 goals in 35 games so far. He also has assists to his name.
Carlos Vela assisted the opener in the last round and has 12 goals and 10 assists in 33 games so far this season. The frontline has goals in them and once they hit their stride, LAFC could wreak havoc in the final-third.
After joining the squad in August earlier this year, Denis Bouanga has already scored a last-gasp winner to give Los Angeles FC a piece of silverware this season. Bouanga’s last minute goal against Portland Timbers handed LAFC their second MLS Supporters’ Shield in four years.
Bouanga turned up the heat with a vital brace against LA Galaxy in the previous round. His contribution helped LAFC secure the semi-final spot. The Gabon international winger has been the perfect addition to the squad.
Bouangais versatile and can play on either flank and can also operate as a striker. After hopping on board in August this year, Bouanga has played eight games, scored three goals and registered an assist in the MLS.
In the MLS league phase this season, Austin FC finished second in the Western Conference. They won 16, drew 8 and lost 10 games this season. More importantly, The Oaks are undefeated against their semi-final opponents – Los Angeles FC.
The two first met this season in May 2022 when Los Angeles hosted Austin FC. Ruben Gabrielsen and Diego Fagundez scored before LAFC pulled one back via a Carlos Vela penalty in the 86th minute.
In the reverse fixture in August 2022, Austin FC thumped LAFC 4-1. This time, Maximiliano Nicolas Urruti bagged and Fagundez and Sebastian Driussi added to the tally as the hosts lead 4-0 before the hour mark. Arango pulled one back for LAFC in the 61st minute.
Austin FC will be looking to capitalize on the fact that Los Angeles FC have not kept a clean sheet in their last six matches. However, The Oaks themselves have not kept a clean sheet in the last five matches.
A stat that might worry Austin FC is that they have managed to keep just two clean sheets in their last 15 games this season. Julio Cascante and Ruben Gabrielsen will have to be on their toes to keep The Black and Gold frontline at bay.
With 8 clean sheets in 33 games so far this season, Brad Stuver is expected to be between the sticks for Austin FC. Stuver has faced seven penalties this season and has managed to save two.
Both sides show similar patterns – menacing offenses and leaky defenses. The two teams are quite evenly matched on paper and in games like this, it is usually the midfield that controls the tempo of the game.
The defense will be vigilant and the attackers will be on their toes, looking to skip the offside trap and bury the ball into the net. However, it will be interesting to see how Alexander Ring and Daniel Pereira handle the pressure in midfield.
In their last game, against FC Dallas, Pereira had a passing accuracy of 96% while Ring ended with 78%. If Pereira replicates that performance and Ring steps up his game, they could cause problems for LAFC in the midfield and throughout the game.
|Teams||Los Angeles FC vs Austin FC|
|Location||Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles|
|Time||Sunday, October 30 at 3pm ET onwards|
|How to watch||ABC, TSN4, TVA Sports, ESPN3 in Spanish|
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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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