Galaxy-Austin FC Preview
LA Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney has described Austin FC as a "dangerous opponent" as they have nothing to lose in Sunday's match at Q2 Stadium.
Austin have lost eight of their last nine matches, including each of the last five, and are well adrift at the bottom of the Western Conference.
Galaxy are themselves struggling for form, having gone six matches without a victory, yet they are still well positioned in the playoff spots.
Dropped points in Texas this weekend will open the door for the chasing pack, though, and Vanney is not expecting an easy contest against the division's bottom side.
"They're a dangerous opponent in many ways - they really don't have anything to lose," Vanney said.
"They can throw whatever they want at us in any way they want to and take whatever risks they want to try to get a result or try to push the game.
"They're at home, they're in front of their fans in their new stadium, which I know they want to try and get some momentum and some belief in their own stadium."
Austin have shipped 16 goals across their five-game losing run and have only five wins to their name from 25 games in what has been a humbling introduction to life in MLS.
Despite throwing away a two-goal half-time lead against San Jose Earthquakes last time out, head coach Josh Wolff can see signs of progress.
"I think our identity, the way that we play and certainly the emotion that our guys consistently show, barring a few poor performances, has been pretty good," Wolff said.
"That growth and our way of playing is I think fairly recognizable and certainly entertaining. Lately we've seen ourselves score a good amount of goals.
"The issue now becomes the ability to prevent goals and to grind and to compete and the real piece is to problem solve when things do break down in the game."
Austin FC - Moussa Djitte
One of the positives Wolff mentioned was his side's improved goalscoring record, which has coincided with the introduction of Sebastian Driussi and Djitte. Senegalese forward Djitte has yet to score in his five appearances, but he only made his first start last week and looked lively against the Quakes.
LA Galaxy - Sebastian Lletget
Galaxy's goals have somewhat dried up of late and that is largely down to the absence of Javier Hernandez, who was a second-half substitute in the loss to Minnesota United. Hernandez could return to the starting line-up here, but Vanney also needs others, such as Lletget, to step up. The midfielder was on target in the reverse meeting with Austin but that was his only goal to date in 2021.
- LA Galaxy won the first-ever meeting between the sides 2-0 on May 15. The Galaxy are unbeaten in six straight matches against expansion sides (W4 D2), last losing to an MLS newcomer in 2017, a 4-0 defeat at Atlanta United.
- Austin FC have allowed 16 goals over their current five-match losing streak (3.2 per match), conceding at least three times in three of the five games. Austin had allowed just 24 goals in their first 20 games (1.2 per match), not conceding three goals in any of those contests
- The Galaxy's 3-0 loss at Minnesota United ended a season-long nine-match run of games with at least one goal. The Galaxy have not been shut out in consecutive league games since failing to score in three straight matches in September 2020.
- Since the beginning of July, Austin FC have the most possession in MLS (59.8 per cent) with the Galaxy third (55.2). Austin has won the possession battle in all but one of their 14 games since the start of July.
- Only Austin's Brad Stuver (4.20) has made more saves per 90 minutes than Jonathan Bond (4.05) this season. The only Galaxy goalkeeper in the last decade to be make more than four saves per 90 minutes in a season was David Bingham (4.17) in 2019.
Updated September 25, 2021