The 2023 Austin FC squad is officially eliminated from playoff contention as they lose to LAFC in a lopsided 4-2 loss at Q2 Stadium in their final home match.
LAFC were in control from start to finish, as they scored early on and added three more to go up 4-0 before ATX were able to score two late goals.
Only one change was made in the starting XI from Wednesday night’s win, and that was Nick Lima back in defense, as Owen Wolff did not get the start.
Who Is Stepping Up?
This was about the exact opposite of the performance that we saw from Wednesday’s match, in which I had trouble finding players who didn’t play well. In this match, I am struggling to find who played better than expectations or even met them.
I thought Jhojan Valencia continued to show why he deserved to start. He at times seemed like one of the few players who cared and was giving it his all for the badge. He did get subbed off at the start of the second half, as coach Josh Wolff put in Dani Pereira.
Dani looked good coming off the bench. He was able to move the ball forward with accurate passes and was solid when defending. He is the one who delivered the ball to Leo Vaisanen for the first ATX goal. I would have liked to see him start, though, as he is a top-three player on this squad.
Sebastian Driussi didn’t have a poor night, but LAFC made sure to not let him get going, and they kept him level throughout the match. But drawing that attention from LAFC is a positive if other players can step up and take advantage of more space, but in this case no one did.
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Who Is Dropping Off?
I thought the entire back line looked bad. They were slow to the ball, out of position at times, and caught ball watching on numerous occasions. Leo Vaisanen did get his first goal since joining the club, but it has to be bittersweet as he gave LAFC an obvious penalty kick that put them down 2-0 going into halftime.
When Julio Cascante was tracking in defense, he struggled with good positioning and clearing the ball, as most of the defense seemed to not be able to figure it out. There were too many times when there would be three or four Austin players around an LAFC attacker and no one would step up to give a quality challenge or clear the ball to get it out of dangerous territory.
Emiliano Rigoni struggled as he won just one duel, going one-for-seven on ground duels. He also struggled in the attack, as he only completed one of his four crosses. His play in this match and season is even more discouraging in comparison with another designated player for LAFC, Denis Bouanga who has played at such a high level since joining LAFC.
There is still one more match left. We will have to wait to see who gets minutes in that last match, as it might be good for players who don’t see the pitch much to have an opportunity, as well as a farewell to players who might not be retained on this squad going forward.
It should be interesting to see what the front office does this off-season to address the needs that are glaring on this team.
The final match will be in San Jose as they take on the Earthquakes on October 21 at 8 pm.
What kind of changes do you want to see happen in this team this off-season? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy Apple TV