It's a battle of the new kids on the block as Charlotte FC faceoffs against last season's expansion team, Austin FC.
Here are the three ingredients of the match for Austin:
MLS MVP favorite, Sebastián Driussi is at the core of everything Austin does on offense. If he gets the ball in good positions, he will make things happen.
Austin uses off-ball runs from the players surrounding Driussi for him to receive the ball in positions where he has space to move freely. These “dummy” runs are done all over the pitch to drag opposing players away from Driussi so he can do his thing.
The Crown will have to stay disciplined in their defensive positioning. An area they've improved in since interim head coach, Christian Lattanzio took over. The team needs to resist the baits and stay compact to give Driussi as little space as possible to operate down the middle to minimize his influence over the match.
Something that both Austin FC and Charlotte FC have in common is that they are committed to playing from the back. They both accept the risks involved but at times it has cost them this season.
Austin have a solid defensive record but the goals they have conceded have predominantly come from individual errors. An aspect that CLTFC can look to exploit, especially playing at home with the support of the crowd behind them.
Putting pressure on Austin’s center backs and holding midfielders when they have the ball will be key in forcing mistakes. But it will have to be an organized effort because Austin have the quality to slice through a poor press and punish you.
Put the Game Away
If the trend continues of Charlotte FC scoring first at home – which they have done in five out of their eight matches – their job won’t finish there. Austin have shown to be a resilient team that can never be counted out in a match.
They’ve come back in five matches this season to earn points against FC Dallas, Orlando City, Houston Dynamo, D.C. United, and the Seattle Sounders. The Crown must make the most of their scoring opportunities and stay focused through the 90 minutes to put the game away and pick up all three points.
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