If El Diez’s press conference didn’t get you totally pumped up for the new season starting on February 25th, then you should really give this week’s Moontower interviews with Zardes and Healey a listen. If none of that works, go see a doctor and have them check your pulse.
Even before this week, I was already contemplating my top 3 matches to write about, and that little exercise has given me a case of the Verde fever!
Without further ado…here are the matches I have to attend live this year, and my very specific reasons for doing so.
#3 Home vs. Toronto FC on Saturday, May 20th @ 7:30 PM
The obvious hype about this one is that it’s our first faceoff ever against TFC. But for me, there are two factors that set this one apart.
First, storylines matter. This match will see Coach Wolff spar with the man who gave him his start as a pro soccer player for the Chicago Fire, Mr. Bob Bradley. More importantly, if the match goes the way we all want it to, it’ll be the first time Wolff is victorious over his former sensei.
Wolff was at a huge disadvantage in the two previous encounters in 2021 vs LAFC. In those losses Bob’s team was in the 4th year of his project, and the team had an established culture, with a fine-tuned roster; whereas Wolff’s team was still very much a rough draft (just one year of edits showed us just how capable of a coach he really is- just imagine where we’d be if the #wolffout dummies got their way).
Besides that, my introduction to soccer fandom was through supporting the USMNT while living in Mexico City for 4 years (I endured a lot of trash-talking). So I’m always up for being in the stadium when multiple anthems are sung. It gives me some of those World Cup vibes that I usually have to wait 4 years for.
ON A RELATED NOTE: These games against international opponents are the one beef I have with Q2 Stadium– they’re the one time you can really tell that our club was founded by foreigners (non-Texans). The lack of a 3rd flag pole means that at least 6 times this year, our beloved Texas flag will be put on the shelf in favor of Canadian, Mexican, and Haitian flags. Weirdly, if you look at the ground between the two poles, you’ll see a square cut into the concrete, which leads me to believe that at one point, they almost did it right (are flag poles really that expensive? Even our minor league counterparts two hours south of us on 35 got this right.)
Okay, now you might be asking me, “this isn’t the only cross-border competition in 2023, why not get up for one of the five other matches?” Sure, let’s talk about Montreal or Vancouver– or even League’s Cup or Concacaf Champions League?
Well let me make a quick case:
- Montreal blew up their roster, they’re in a full rebuild (they should be more of a bonus game than any of our bonus games last year).
- Vancouver? Meh… they always just feel vanilla– generic and unexciting. They’re like the MLS version of a bowl of oatmeal minus the fruit and sugar.
- The three opponents that we know for sure in our international tournaments are just entry-level teams that shouldn’t be any trouble for the best team in Texas. However, as we progress through those tourneys, I will definitely get up for any games against the likes of Pachuca, America, or Chivas.
Toronto FC, on the other hand, has legit star power! Those international stars (like Insigne, Bernardeschi, and Bradley), combined with the success the club has enjoyed over the last 5 years, along with the AppleTV deal… all this will shine an international spotlight on this matchup. Austin FC’s reputation across the planet will be boosted when Coach Wolff exacts his revenge!
Okay, I wrote way more about this one match than I expected! So I guess, I’ll do separate posts for each of these “can’t miss matches” before the season starts in 10 days!!
Check out Part II of “Top 3 Can’t Miss Austin FC Matches this Season”.
Photos Courtesy of Apple’s MLS Season Pass and jeremiahtheannouncer’s twitter.
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