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Austin FC
Major League Soccer
Apr 16, 2023 at 1.30am UK
Bold Stadium
Vancouver Whitecaps

0 - 0

Driussi (40'), Lima (68')

White (42'), Cubas (45')

Preview: Austin FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Major League Soccer clash between Austin FC and Vancouver Whitecaps, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Two teams separated by two points in the Western Conference standings will square off in MLS action this Saturday as Austin FC welcome the Vancouver Whitecaps to Q2 Stadium.

The Verde and Black suffered their worst campaign defeat on matchday seven, 3-0 at Los Angeles FC, allowing Vancouver to overtake them thanks to a 1-0 triumph over the Portland Timbers.

Match preview

Austin FC players huddle on the field prior to the game on April 9, 2023© Reuters

It has been a frustrating few matches for Josh Wolff and his Austin side, who are winless in their last three games, matching the longest such run from a year ago.

They have failed to take advantage of opportunities presented to them numerous times, including at BMO Stadium in their previous encounter when a Zan Kolmanic effort struck the bar, with Austin struggling to keep up that early momentum.

So far, their season has not gone how many had expected, but the franchise has to be encouraged with what they saw from their Academy, as its Under-15 squad captured the 2023 Generation Adidas Cup over the long weekend.

Perhaps watching those youngsters show so much flair could light a fire under the senior squad, as the Austin first team seem to be low on confidence since being knocked out of the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) by Haitian side Violette in mid-March.

In 2022, the Verde and Black were one of the most dynamic attacking sides in the league, finishing the regular season with the third-most goals (65), but they have not had nearly as much depth or quality so far in 2023, tied for the third-fewest goals scored to this point of the campaign (six).

Austin have conceded in all but one of their regular season encounters so far this year, though they managed to pick up a clean sheet the last time they hosted the Caps in 2022, capturing a 3-0 triumph on that occasion.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC defender Javain Brown (23) reacts after scoring a goal against Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Zac MacMath (18) during the first half at BC Place on February 25, 2023© Reuters

Slowly but surely, the Whitecaps are starting to creep their way up the Western Conference standings after a rough opening.

Their victory at home to Portland on Saturday extended the Caps' unbeaten run in this competition to five matches, the longest such streak for them in MLS since claiming at least a point in 10 consecutive 2021 encounters.

The biggest question surrounding this team in 2023 has been where the goals will come from following the departure of their top scorer Lucas Cavallini to Liga MX.

It remains to be seen if Vanni Sartini has found the answer to that question long-term, but there are some positive signs as a pair of youngsters have breathed new life into the Caps' attack in recent outings, creating dozens of scoring opportunities in transition.

Lately, their compact defensive line has done its job to keep Vancouver on the front foot, as they have not faced a single shot on target in back-to-back domestic contests, while a clean sheet this weekend would match their longest regular-season run without conceding from 2022 (three).

Los Angeles FC dashed the Whitecaps' hopes of a CONCACAF Champions League semi-final berth on Tuesday, defeating them 3-0, winning the tie 6-0 on aggregate.

Austin FC Major League Soccer form:

Vancouver Whitecaps Major League Soccer form:

Vancouver Whitecaps form (all competitions):
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L

Team News

Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff directs his team in the first half at America First Field on March 11, 2023© Reuters

Julio Cascante remains sidelined for the Verde and Black because of a left adductor strain, as the manager brought in four new faces to his starting 11 versus the Black and Gold, with Leo Vaisanen, Owen Wolff, Diego Fagundez and Maximiliano Urruti replacing Nick Lima, Jhojan Valencia, Ethan Finlay and Gyasi Zardes.

Cascante, by the way, signed a contract extension with Austin this week through until 2025 with an option for 2026, having made 67 appearances for them in the regular season.

Jon Gallagher had the only goal in their previous home outing when they drew the Colorado Rapids 1-1, his team-leading third of the campaign, equalling the most in a single season for him with Austin.

The second-highest goalscorer in the league last year, Sebastian Driussi (24), has netted twice against the Caps, scoring once while setting up the winner from Urruti in their victory at home to Vancouver in 2022, with Brad Stuver collecting a shutout on that occasion.

Alessandro Schopf missed the Whitecaps' encounter versus Portland due to a left hamstring strain, Sergio Cordova remains out with a right hamstring injury, allowing youngsters Ali Ahmed and Simon Becher to start the last two domestic games.

Brian White had the only goal for Vancouver last weekend, his second of the domestic campaign, while Yohei Takaoka did not have to make a single save to collect another clean sheet in this competition.

Ryan Gauld has a goal and two assists in his four previous matches played against Austin, setting up the winner by White the first time they faced them in 2021, while Pedro Vite assisted on the winner from the Scotsman at home to the Verde and Black last year (2-0).

Austin FC possible starting lineup:
Stuver; Gallagher, Ring, Vaisanen, Lima; Wolff, Pereira; Rigoni, Driussi, Fagundez; Zardes

Vancouver Whitecaps possible starting lineup:
Takaoka; Laborda, Veselinovic, Blackmon, Martins; Gressel, Cubas, Ahmed; Caicedo, Gauld; Becher

SM words green background

We say: Austin FC 1-2 Vancouver Whitecaps

The Verde and Black are struggling to find depth along the backline forcing Josh Wolff to play Alexander Ring in central defence rather than his preferred holding midfielder role that he is more accustomed to.

Austin are a better team than their record indicates, but their overzealous defending when out of possession could allow the new, youthful Whitecaps to create scoring opportunities and deliver their first road victory of the campaign.

How to watch

You can watch Austin FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps and every MLS match this season live on Apple TV. Click here for more details on how to subscribe.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.
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St Louis City SC defender Tim Parker (26) celebrates his goal with teammates in the first half against Austin FC at Q2 Stadium on February 25, 2023
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Eastern Conference

1Inter MiamiInter Miami1594236201631
2FC CincinnatiCincinnati149321911830
3New York Red BullsNY Red Bulls146532521423
4New York City FCNY City147251816223
6Columbus Crew135621913621
7Charlotte FCCharlotte FC146351413121
8Philadelphia UnionPhiladelphia134542521417
9DC United144552024-417
10Orlando City134451520-516
11Nashville SCNashville133641720-315
12Atlanta UnitedAtlanta133461716113
13CF MontrealMontreal133371731-1412
14Chicago Fire142481326-1310
15New England RevolutionNew England12219925-167

Western Conference

1Real Salt LakeSalt Lake1484227141328
2Minnesota UnitedMinnesota Utd127322114724
3Los Angeles GalaxyLA Galaxy145722521422
4Austin FCAustin146441917222
5Los Angeles FCLos Angeles136342419521
6Colorado RapidsColorado146352423121
7Vancouver WhitecapsVancouver135441915419
8Houston DynamoHouston135351213-118
9St Louis City133731920-116
10Seattle SoundersSeattle143561617-114
11Portland TimbersPortland143472629-313
13Sporting Kansas CityKansas132562124-311
14San Jose EarthquakesEarthquakes1431102233-1110

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