Match previews

Match preview: Austin FC v. Philadelphia Union

Who: Austin FC v. Philadelphia Union

What: MLS Regular Season

Where: Q2 Stadium, Austin, TX

When: Saturday, March 16th, 8:30 p.m. Eastern

Watch: Apple TV – MLS Season Pass.  Tonight’s game can be viewed for free on the streaming platform.

 Some matches pit an unstoppable force against an immovable object.  This is not one of those matches.

Austin FC will play host to the Philadelphia Union in the Texas capital this Saturday evening in MLS Regular Season action.  The two sides have never met before in a competitive fixture with both sides in search of their first win of the season in MLS play.

Austin FC are sporting a record of 0-1-2 and sit on 2 points which is only good enough for 22nd place in the league as a whole.  They have managed draws in their last two matches, at Seattle (0 – 0) and at home against St. Louis City (2 – 2), after beginning the season with a 2 to 1 home loss to Minnesota United.  Austin FC have failed to win 13 of their last 14 MLS matches.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s last scheduled match at home to Seattle had to be cancelled due to a deluge which made the field unplayable.  They have earned 2 points this season coming from two draws – one a 2 to 2 affair at Subaru Park against Chicago Fire FC, the other a 1 to 1 deadlock away against Sporting Kansas City.  They are currently in 21st place in the league as a whole.  Philadelphia is coming off one of the club’s worst results losing 6-0 to Pachuca.

 Scouting Report: Austin FC

From an injury standpoint, Austin FC enters the match with two players on the mend.  Leo Vaisanen is out with a Plantar Fascia injury while Sebastian Driussi is questionable again with right hamstring irritation.

Austin FC looked poised to pick up their first win of the season in their last match against St. Louis, however they conceded a stoppage time equalizer to settle for the point.  The Verde – under the leadership of Josh Wolff – will, most likely look to play in a 4-2-3-1 formation which was the formation of choice against Minnesota and St. Louis.  Brad Stuver will start in goal.  Stuver has played every minute in the young season for Austin FC and has conceded four goals.  Their back four will be anchored in the middle by center backs Matt Hedges and Julio Cascante both of whom scored in Austin FC’s last match against St. Louis.

Austin FC play five in the midfield with two holding midfielders and three who support the attack of lone striker Diego Rubio.

So far this season, Austin FC has looked particularly strong on set pieces.  They play an aggressive brand of soccer and have a tendency to attack with long balls down the left flank.  They have a cumulative xGF of 2.1.

Their weaknesses come in the area of defending set pieces and counter attacks.  Additionally, Austin FC has shown to have difficulty in possession choosing to pass in their own end.  Opponents have been able to create chances offensively against Austin FC. Challengers have been able to play aggressively against them and they are particularly susceptible to attacks down the wings which is an area of strength for the Union.

Austin have a cumulative xGA of 6.2 which translates into lots of chances around Stuver’s goal.

 Scouting Report: Philadelphia Union

The Philadelphia Union are desperate for a win, especially after their 6 to 0 drubbing on Tuesday against Pachuca.

They are relatively healthy coming into this match.  Only Jose Martinez is listed as doubtful.  Martinez was subbed at half-time during the mid-week match due to illness.

Jim Curtin will, again, use a 4-3-1-2 formation.  Andre Blake will start in goal.  Look for Olivier Mbaizo to start ahead of Nathan Harriel at RB.  Martinez will play at the base of the diamond with Daniel Gazdag in the Number 10 role.  Mikael Uhre and Julián Carranza will be the attacking options for the winless Union.

The Union have been nothing but predictable this season.  They have attacked mainly down the right flank and rely on a heavy service from the wing by Kai Wagner.

Defensively they have shown an uncanny ability to get back on defense after losing the ball.  They have defended set pieces well and have protected a lead – when they have one.  They have even shown some offensively resiliency by coming back to score late in games.

 Player to Watch: Diego Rubio

Signed in February as a free agent, Rubio shined against St. Louis in a role farther back on the field than a traditional striker. With Gyasi Zardes in the conventional striker position, Rubio was in Driussi’s normal role as more of an attacking midfielder/freelancer, though Wolff called him a “second striker.”

 Prediction:  Austin FC 1 – 2 Philadelphia Union

Look for the Union to bounce back this Saturday.  This is a very winnable road game which is something good teams need to do if they are expected to compete with any success in the post-season.

One Comment

  1. I agree with the 2-1 score line, Union score 2 early goals but don’t play well for the rest of the match. The late game gets nervy as Austin score late, and nearly score again. Union get their first MLS win of the season

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