Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff is hopeful that an extended break between matches will stand his side in good stead for Thursday’s clash with Seattle Sounders.
Wolff’s side were last in MLS action on July 7 with a 2-0 loss at home to Los Angeles FC, though they did play an exhibition match against Tigres last week.
The 15-day rest between games has given Austin’s players a chance to rest up ahead of the visit of Western Conference leaders Seattle.
The Sounders suffered a first loss of the season at Minnesota United last weekend and Austin boss Wolff intends to take the game to last term’s MLS Cup runners-up.
“Playing at home, being aggressive, having the energy and pushing the tempo, it’s extremely important,” he said. “We’ve got to get the goals.”
Club captain Alex Rings has used the last two weeks as an opportunity to recover from an ankle problem sustained during a manic run prior to the mini hiatus.
“For the guys, it was nice to get away and calm down a little bit,” Ring said. “We got to hang out with family and friends, so I think all and all, everyone is really happy.”
Seattle will certainly be looking to make a swift response to their surprise loss at Minnesota, which ended an MLS record of 13 games without defeat to begin a season.
Making that run all the more impressive is the fact Seattle have been without a number of key players regularly throughout 2021 due to injuries, international call-ups and suspensions.
“I’m so proud of how the players have adjusted and fought adversity,” head coach Brian Schmetzer said. “It’s a sign that the standard at this club is very, very high.
“We’ll regroup and go again. That’s what we do. We’re not satisfied with saying, ‘We’ve won 13 and this stretch is going to be pretty tough, let’s see if we can snag a point here’. It’s not in our DNA.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Austin FC – Rodney Redes
Wolff used the Tigres friendly as a chance to give some of his players who have not played regularly so far this term a chance to stake a claim for a starting spot. Redes took full advantage by finding the back of the net in the 3-1 loss. Having struggled from injuries this term, Wolff suggested the forward could make his first start in a month – and just a fourth all season – against Seattle.
Seattle Sounders – Samuel Adeniran
So extreme has the Sounders’ selection issues been, they had to use players from their reserve side – Tacoma Defiance – against Minnesota. Adeniran was one of those players, coming on for the final five minutes of the 1-0 loss for his MLS debut. He is unlikely to start here, but Schmetzer clearly has trust in the untested forward.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Austin are aiming to become just the second expansion team to go unbeaten in multiple matches against the Sounders in their first MLS season after drawing 0-0 in May. Los Angeles FC won both meetings with Seattle in their inaugural 2018 campaign.
– Austin FC have just one win in their last 10 matches (D4 L5) after winning two of their first three games as an MLS club. That win was a 4-1 victory over Seattle’s Cascadia rivals the Portland Timbers.
– The Seattle Sounders’ MLS-record 13 match unbeaten run to start the season ended with defeat at Minnesota United. It has been more than two years since the Sounders last losing streak, dropping three in a row in May-June 2019.
– Austin have failed to score in seven of their last nine matches, including in a 2-0 loss to Los Angeles FC in their last match. Austin have failed to find the net in three of their first four home matches in MLS.
– Fredy Montero played the full 90 minutes for Seattle against Minnesota but did not register a shot. Since 2010, Montero has failed to attempt a shot in a match in which he’s played at least 80 minutes just four times, last doing so prior to Sunday in May 2019 against Atlanta United as a member of the Vancouver Whitecaps.