3 goals in 9 games. That’s El Tree’s scoring output since their 3-goal breakout against Colorado in week 2. The math’s just frankly not going to be in your favor if you’re not putting balls in the back of the net, and that scoring drought has led to a tally of just 7 points over that stretch of games.
The weekend game against the Crew was particularly frustrating. Austin controlled a full 56% of possession — an outcome of how Josh Wolff wants the team to play — but even with the openness of the game, the final ball failed us.
There are reasons to be optimistic, however. The emergence of Kolmanič and Gallagher as a duo that can produce chances down the left side and Jiménez’s increased role after Lima went down with what Wolff called a “significant” hamstring injury have added a real potency to the Austin FC attack down the wings. In fact, Jiménez outpaces (albeit over a smaller set of games) the veteran Lima in shot creating actions per game — defined by StatsBomb as the two offensive actions directly leading to a shot (such as dribbles, passes, or drawing fouls). The continued improvement in outside play paired with a dynamic goal scorer in our new signing, Moussa Djitté, could be a recipe for putting points on the board.
Moussa to the Rescue?
Speaking of reasons to be optimistic, the Senegalese forward has boasted some impressive numbers for the French Ligue 2 side, Grenoble — putting up 15 goals in 67 appearances (47 starts). He also fills a growing need up top for an Austin FC side whose goals for fall well below their xG to the tune of 6.81 goals — enough to place the squad dead last in that category.
In part, the new signing also frees up Josh Wolff to utilize Cecilio Domínguez in more creative ways. The natural winger and midfielder has often been conscripted into playing a true forward/striker role in lieu of other options — particularly with the news that Danny Hoesen is out for the rest of the season with hip issues and Aaron Schoenfeld having not seen the field with nagging injuries.
A Look at the Matchup
Portland comes into this Thursday game allowing 1.4 goals against per game, leaving them in the bottom half of the league. Similarly to Austin, they rank even worse in their expected goals against — sitting in 5th to last. The chances are going to be there. Will El Tree capitalize this week? Unfortunately we’ll have to do so without our brand new signing as the Ligue 2 transfer waits for the visa process to work itself out.
Keep a special eye on Jon Gallagher, regardless of whether he starts or comes off the bench. Wing play will be an important source of opportunity for the team tonight, and if we can find some lethality in our finishing, expect Austin to break its scoring slump.
As always, you can check us out over on Twitter/Instagram at losnerdesverdes as well as the AustinFC subreddit. Stay Verde!
(1) wasn’t it announced that Hoesen might return later this season?
(2) Djitte sounds like a low-cost/low-risk option. Could be a great signing, but it has almost zero impact on the payroll toward the salary cap. I expect them to bring in more players, maybe including a third DP.
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