Los Angeles FC-Austin FC Preview

National Sports

Josh Wolff has criticized his Austin FC side for their “completely unacceptable” performance against Houston Dynamo which leaves the pressure on heading into Wednesday’s visit of Los Angeles FC.

Austin found themselves behind inside 48 seconds against their out-of-form Texas rivals and two more goals followed from Fafa Picault to condemn Wolff’s men to a third successive defeat.

Only Toronto FC have a worse record than Austin in the whole of MLS and first-year manager Wolff was unable to hide his frustration on the back of his side’s 14th defeat in 23 matches.

“It was unacceptable. Completely unacceptable,” he said. “The players’ responsibility, intensity when the ball is in play, just the general demeanor of some of our players at the beginning of the game is unacceptable.

“We talked about what this game was going to be, a team that hadn’t won in 16 games, a level of intensity that you need to have first to walk on the field in this league to compete. It can’t take 45 minutes, it can’t take being down 2-0.

“Our guys know this, and we talked about it. There’s going to be some changes come Wednesday. We’ve got three games this week and the last game was frustrating to say the least.”

LAFC enter the midweek contest on the back of successive wins over Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake, home victories that have catapulted them right back into contention for a Western Conference playoff spot.

Despite an upturn in form on the back of a recent eight-game winless streak, head coach Bob Bradley can still see room for improvement from his side.

“In our history, at times, we’ve shown that as exciting as we can be and as much as we can play some great football, we still make some mistakes in some key moments,” he said. “We’re always working to improve that.

“I think we played a lot of really good games this year. And then sometimes you don’t finish chances, and maybe you make a mistake, and then people start questioning everything. This team has a good mentality.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Austin FC – Sebastian Driussi

Wolff has made clear that he plans to make changes on Wednesday on the back of his side’s latest disappointing display, but he is likely to stick with Driussi in attacking midfield.

The ex-Zenit St Petersburg ace has started three of Austin’s last four home matches and has scored and assisted a combined four goals across that period.

Los Angeles FC – Cristian Arango

Arango scored the quickest goal in LAFC’s history in the 3-2 win over Real Salt Lake and followed that up with a second goal later in the game to restore his side’s lead.

The 26-year-old was named MLS Player of the Week for that performance and has now netted in each of LAFC’s last three matches, scoring four times in total.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Los Angeles FC beat Austin 2-0 on the opening day of the season and Austin’s inaugural MLS match. LAFC have a perfect record against expansion sides, winning all four games by a combined score of 7-0.

– Austin FC have lost three straight matches following a 3-1 win over Portland on August 21. Austin have followed each of their last four victories with a three-match losing streak.

– Los Angeles scored ten goals in a three-match homestand in which they went unbeaten (W2 D1). LAFC have lost four straight away matches, however, scoring a total of three goals in those games.

– Austin FC have scored with 6.9 per cent of their shots this season, on pace for the fifth-worst conversion rate in a regular season since 2010.

– Arango’s goal after 20 seconds last week was the fastest in MLS since Justin Meram scored after nine seconds for Columbus Crew against New York Red Bulls in the 2015 playoffs.

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