Coming off a thrilling win on Saturday night against CF Montréal, Austin FC will have a quick turnaround as they gear up to face Haitian side Violette AC on Tuesday in Austin’s first-ever CONCACAF Champions League match.
After finishing fourth in the MLS Supporters’ Shield last season, Austin FC earned their bid in the prestigious North American club tournament. Austin regained momentum with a win in their second MLS match of the season on Saturday and will look to get a hot streak going in their midweek match. ATX has been fairly efficient in the attack in their first two MLS matches, and has shown some important improvements on the defensive end as of late.
While Austin would typically rely on superstar names such as Sebastián Driussi in important matches, it’s unlikely that Austin will boast their normal starting eleven, given the team’s upcoming schedule.
The Verde and Black will play three games in seven days, traveling from Austin to the Dominican Republic for their first meeting with Violette, then traveling to Salt Lake City for a weekend matchup with Real Salt Lake, before returning back to Austin next Tuesday for the second leg against Violette.
Austin FC fans should expect a different sort of rotation over the next three matches. The tournament may bring the season debut of Jhojan Valencia, Rodney Redes, and Hector Jimenez, as well as the first action in Verde for new player additions such as Matt Bersano, Amro Tarek, Sofiane Djeffal, and Will Bruin.
While Austin will need to rotate out their guys, fans should still anticipate a serious effort put forward by Josh Wolff’s staff. A few notable names will likely be in the Starting XI for Austin such as Nick Lima, Owen Wolff, Ethan Finlay, and five-time goal scorer at the tournament, Maxi Urruti.
The everyday squad will still see a substantial amount of minutes over the two matches against Violette, but don’t expect Austin’s stars to play the full 90.
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The 104-year-old club from Haiti earned their spot in the tournament by winning the CONCACAF Caribbean Club Championship last season, defeating Dominican side Cibao FC on penalties in the final.
While a smaller club in world football, Violette is no stranger to the big stage, as this season’s tournament will be their fifth appearance in the Champions League, having won the tournament once before in 1984.
Violette is not currently in a compact schedule, meaning Le Vieux Tigre is likely to put their best squad forward against Austin. Violette is led by midfielder Elyvens Dejean, who was named the Best Player of the 2022 Caribbean Club Championship, as well as striker Stevenson Jeudi, who represents the Haitian national team and was named the Best Young Player of the 2022 CCC after scoring two goals in the semifinal.
Tuesday night’s matchup will certainly be an interesting one for Austin fans, as it will be the first time, aside from friendlies against Liga MX sides Atlas and Pachuca, that Austin FC will test the waters of CONCACAF competition.
It will also be an opportunity for first impressions, as many of Austin’s newest players are likely to see some action.
Given that Austin FC has never appeared in an international tournament of this kind, mixed with the lack of fixtures that Violette has played in the past few months, it’s difficult to predict how the first leg will go for either side.
No matter the lineup for Austin, I expect a similar attacking brand of soccer that we’ve seen in the past two weeks from Coach Wolff, with a few bright spots for both teams.
In the first leg, I predict a 2-0 win for Austin.
Odds: Austin -550 and Violette +1550. A draw is priced at +500.
- OUT: Julio Cascante (Adductor)
- OUT: CJ Fodrey (Quad)
Unofficial report based on the previous match.
How to Watch Austin FC
Austin FC will play Violette AC at Estadio Cibao FC (Santiago, DR)—5:00 p.m. (CT) kickoff on Tuesday, March 7.
- Broadcast: Fox Sports 1 (English) and TUDN (Spanish)
Official 2023 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League tournament schedule.
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