Was tonight a preview of the playoffs? Could very well of been, with first-placed LAFC making the trip to Texas to take on second-place Austin FC. Despite having a comfortable cushion at the top, this one was a massive match. Not only was it a chance for Austin to make the race for the Supporter’s Shield a bit more interesting, but it was another opportunity for them to show the MLS favorites that they were a team to fear come postseason play.
The match got off to a really slow start for LAFC. One of only a couple of times we've seen the team come out lethargic and disinterested in ways. They only managed to keep possession for 47% of the half, and only got off two shots with none finding the target. Far from the high-powered offense we have grown used to in 2022. To make matters worse, Austin FC found the go-ahead goal before the half. A perfect free-kick from Diego Fagúndez gave his side the lead. Max tried his best, but unless he grew wings, he wasn't stopping that effort.
LAFC, for better or worse, have leaned on being a second-half team and this was no different. They would need a big second 45 if they were going to find a way to leave Austin with a point at the least. Unfortunately, Austin knew this too, and beat LAFC at their own game, getting two more goals mere minutes into the second half.
The first goal came via a header after a solid pass into the box, giving Austin FC the two goal lead just a minute into the second half, courtesy of Max Urriti. It would be the same player who doubled his goal tally just minutes later.
Golden Boot and MVP frontrunner, Sebastian Driussi scored a fourth goal for Austin and it was looking real shambolic for the visitors. Luckily the fight is in them and they worked hard, after several substitutions, to pull one back. Opoku came off the bench and immediately put a ball into the box that found its way around to Arango who put it in for the goal. The hill was steep, but LAFC still had time to climb it.
The team got winded halfway up and couldn't find a second goal, let alone the three needed to salvage a point. No two ways about it, this was ugly. From the start, LAFC were the inferior side, with Austin FC looking to send fans into an early weekend celebration. The home side completes the season sweep of LAFC, but more importantly, close the gap to six points. For the black and gold, the time has come to regroup. While you want to get the losing out your system before the playoffs, the last thing you want is to go into the postseason on a losing streak, feeling down. Especially after the year this team has had so far, the finish line is in sight, don't get caught celebrating, time to run through and finish the regular season strong. Starting Wednesday against Houston Dynamo.
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