The opening leg of round one of CCL is in the books. Leg 2 is meant to give home field advantage to the higher seeded clubs… in theory… assuming you don’t let the situation get out of hand in the first leg. In the first set of games, only two away teams managed a victory, LAFC and Club León. Most teams look set to exploit their home advantage in the return leg.
Another interesting trend occurred in matchday 1, none of the CONCACAF debutants were able to win; only Orlando City managed an impressive 0-0 draw versus Mexican club Tigres UANL (considered by many to be the best team in the tournament). The other two debutants, Atlas and Austin FC, got spanked- HARD- in their road legs (4-1 and 3-0 respectively).
The Craziness Comes to Austin
Austin FC’s first CCL campaign may have already gone off the rails after Violette AC humbled us down in the D.R. last Tuesday. If the Verde and Black have any hope of progressing to the quarterfinals, the home field will have to be advantageous on a spectacular level.
As reported by Club Deportes and Jorge Iturralde, Austin FC’s best home cooking may not be coming from the fans, but rather from USCIS. The reports have been all over the place, but CD’s latest information is that only 10 players and 2 coaches have been granted visas into the US for tomorrow’s home leg.
This “injustice,” as VAC’s coach Rony Attimy called it, led to the Port-au-Prince squad having to round up retired US-based players to fill out their bench. Honestly, Attimy is right. They proved in their 3-0 drubbing of ATXFC in the first leg that they’re worthy competitors that should have the right to defend the honor of their Caribbean Cup victory.
Austin FC also deserve the right to beat them on an even playing field, not because Uncle Sam rigged it in their favor by gutting VAC’s lineup. The only way to put things right isn’t in Austin FC’s hands, though, it all comes down to whether the US Ambassador will listen to the Haitian Prime Minister.
No matter what happens off the pitch, Austin’s chances of progressing are slim because they require a near-perfect defensive effort. If Violette AC scores even 1 goal tomorrow night, then it will require an insane offensive outburst of 4 or 5 goals to secure advancement in the tournament. This defensive task feels even more massive, considering that our first choice defenders all played a full game at 4,226ft on Saturday night.
But when asked, Coach Wolff didn’t want us to read too much into Saturday’s full strength squad selection versus RSL. He ephasized that starting with him, the whole organization takes CCL very seriously, saying “[we have] the ability to right a very poor performance from a week ago, and our guys are energized by that…as a coach, I take every opportunity extremely seriously.”
But Josh Wolff thinks our boys are up to the task. And his belief has to feel even more validated having secured 6 of 9 points in the MLS regular season, with only one goal coming from our starting forwards. He knows that once our big dogs (Fagundez, Zardes, Rigoni, and Driussi) really get cooking, Austin FC’s attack will be downright scary for opposing defenses.
Tomorrow night is when our attacking options really need to get fired up, otherwise Austin FC will flame out on the international stage.