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LAFC at Austin FC

MLS 2021 Season - Match #24

Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021

6:00 p.m. PT

TV: Bally’s Sports SoCal, Estrella TV

RADIO: 1110 AM ESPN, ESPN App (Audio), KFWB 980 AM

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LAFC heads into Austin for another match-up with the newest MLS expansion team in familiar territory – fresh off a victory over Real Salt Lake and looking to build a winning streak. 

In a quirk of the MLS schedule, the last time LAFC faced Austin in Texas it was just four days after defeating RSL by one goal. Now, over a month later and after snapping an eight-game winless streak, the Black & Gold gears up to play Austin on just two days of rest after beating RSL again by one goal, 3-2 on Sept. 12. 

LAFC has won two games in a row, and is looking to match their longest winning streak of the season with a victory over Austin on Wednesday. 

“It’s just about kind of keeping pushing,” LAFC defender Sebastien Ibeagha said. “We need to keep pushing the guys and keep pushing the team as a whole to just push for that playoff spot.”

LAFC head coach Bob Bradley has said that with 11 games remaining in the 2021 season and the Black & Gold trying to sneak into the playoffs – every game feels like a do or die match at this point. And so far, shorthanded due to injuries and national team appearances, LAFC has responded in the last two contests. 

“Sometimes as you get into the latter part of the season,” Bradley said. “These games become fast and furious.”

Things are setting up for another wild one in Texas on Wednesday.

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AUSTIN FC IN-DEPTH

Austin is going through a typical expansion season in their first year in Major League Soccer. Coached by Josh Wolff, Austin is mired in last place in the Western Conference with 19 points, and is looking to quickly forget a disappointing 3-0 loss to Houston on Sept. 11. Expect Austin to come out firing back at home in front of their rowdy new fans – especially since Wolff questioned his team’s toughness against the Dynamo, calling his team “soft” and their performance “unacceptable”.

Austin has brought in veteran leadership with players like midfielder Alex Ring and dangerous offensive players such as Cecilio Dominguez and Tomas Pochettino. 

ARANGO QUICK TO STRIKE

After struggling to score goals throughout much of this season despite numerous big chances in games, LAFC looks to have finally turned the corner. A team that failed to score more than 2 goals in a match through August, has now scored 10 goals in the last three games. On Sept. 12 vs. RSL, it was newcomer Cristian Arango who stepped up to lead the way, scoring the fastest goal in LAFC history, finding the net just 20 seconds into the game. It was the eighth-fastest strike in MLS history. After RSL leveled the game, Arango scored his second goal before halftime, heading in a perfect Eduard Atuesta cross. 

“Obviously, Chicho was fantastic,” Bradley said. “The two goals were great, but also his durability when we needed to play forward a little bit more, for him to hold on to balls and bring guys into the game was great. He’s made a good first impression. He’s a good, solid guy and he’s got a good mentality on the field. He is a guy you can count on. He’s a threat at all times and he now shows that he can play a really important role for us.”

LAFC WILL WIN IF

They can disrupt Austin as they try to build out of the back, and finish off their chances. On short rest, need to continue to get strong performances from the entire roster like Francisco Ginella, Arango, and Bryce Duke.

AUSTIN FC CAN WIN IF

They can win the battle of the set pieces, or get a flash of quality from one of their dangerous strikers. 

NOTES:

• Austin FC’s Head Coach, Josh Wolff, was a young forward for the Chicago Fire from 1998-2002 under then-Head Coach Bob Bradley. The two won an MLS Cup in 1998 together and teamed up in the Windy City until 2002.

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Inspired by Death Proof (2007).

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