Austin FC travelled to take on then winless LA Galaxy at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson. The Verde and Black faithful were hopeful for some goals (and three points!) from the trip, but the guys return to Austin with a scoring drought extending over 350 minutes and zero points.
The starting XI stayed unchanged except Ethan Finlay on for injured Diego Fagundez. Diego is out for at least the next month with a grade 2 groin injury.
Photo courtesy Apple TV
This game was frustrating again due to player performances (and the refs). But even with some poor decisions, the team is not putting out a product that gives us a real chance to win.
Let’s look at the individual performances of players — who needs to improve and who actually is giving us quality performances.
Who Is Stepping Up?
I’m starting the Stepping Up category again this week in goal with the reliable Brad Stuver. Stuver made some very impressive saves throughout the night, especially in the first half to keep it at 0-0 going into halftime. It continues to be frustrating to see these great Stu performances but no attack to go alongside his saves.
Another player that continues to provide high-quality performances is Dani Pereira. Dani continues to show that he is a player to trust in the midfield. He is a player rumored to have interest from some international leagues, and you can see why. He provides top-tier quality on a team that is providing mediocre at best performances.
I wish I could add more to the Stepping Up category, but I think my only two highlights of the game are Stu and Dani. We just need more from this Starting XI and Coach Josh Wolff.
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Who Is Dropping Off?
We discussed who is stepping up, which might be alternatively titled “Who Is Not Dropping Off?”. But now let’s look at some players whose performances truly cost the team the most.
As Stuver has reserved the first position of Stepping Up, Emiliano Rigoni has the first position of Dropping Off locked up right now. Rigoni now has appeared in 15 MLS matches in which he has ZERO goal contributions. That is inexcusable for an attacker of his price and his designated player slot.
Earlier this season, I heard fans defending Rigoni, saying that we needed to be patient and the goals will come because Rigoni is in good positions and not just able to finish. Now it seems Rigoni can’t even find the opportunities to score like the first few games of the 2023 campaign.
Owen Wolff had a rough night in Carson. He seemed lost at times in the middle and had a costly giveaway that led to the second Galaxy goal. I want to be clear that I think he would better serve us coming off the bench. He has a major upside but is still a young and developing player. With Julio Cascante hopefully returning from injury soon, this will provide the opportunity to move Alex Ring back into the midfield and put Teen Wolff on the bench.
Another option would be to start Sofiane Djeffal over Owen. In his few minutes, he has looked good in the midfield. I think he and Dani could pair nicely and could really free up space for this team to get forward.
I was disappointed to find Djeffal wasn’t even included on the bench in Carson. I could not find any information about why. Hope he sees some playing time next match against San Jose.
The strikers are still giving us nothing as Maxi Urruti, and Gyasi Zardes who came on for Maxi in the 80th minute, were held scoreless again. The front office needs to go find a striker to apply pressure on Urruti and Zardes this summer in the transfer window. Will Bruin was just never meant to be someone to compete for the starting job.
I am going to end with team captain Sebastian Driussi. Driussi who gave us MVP-caliber performances all of the 2022 season has had trouble this season thus far. I haven’t put him on this list in previous weeks because I don’t believe he is the main reason for the failure in the Austin FC attack. If anything, I think his performance is a direct product of the other players’ performances mentioned above.
It is hard for Seba to find space and goal opportunities when no one around him is creating space or providing any type of threat. It is easy for opposing teams to game plan against Driussi when he is the only attacker that seems like a legit threat to score. And it hasn’t helped that when Driussi has had chances he hasn’t finished. This team just can’t seem to find any momentum which has built into a massive 350-minute scoreless streak.
Austin FC returns to Q2 Stadium on Saturday as they take on the San Jose Earthquakes at 7:30 pm on Apple TV.
Will they break their scoring drought? Let us know in the comments below!
Cover Photo courtesy Austin FC