MLS Roundup: Surging Austin FC

Major League Soccer yet again did not disappoint over the weekend. From a nine-goal thriller between NYCFC and Toronto to San Jose winning its first match of the season against the Sounders in stoppage time, the competitiveness of the league was once again on display. Danny Musovski saved LAFC late in the second half as Steve Cherundolo and the squad extended their win streak to three matches in all competitions. Possibly the biggest news coming out of the weekend was Austin FC stretching its unbeaten streak in the MLS to five matches, as it moved past L.A Galaxy for second in the tightly contested Western Conference. Bruce Arena and the Revolution were unable to capitalize on last week's win as D.C United downs New England who move down to 13th in the Eastern Conference after a historic 2021 season. While the Revolution are still looking around for answers, the New York Red Bulls smash Orlando City and end its win streak at three games.

C/O: Jack Myer/American Statesman

Following the massive win of the Vancouver Whitecaps, Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff spoke on his team's performance, stating, "Tonight was awesome. The guys came back to Q2 and I told them a little beforehand — a cup of Q2 and you guys will be just fine. They came out and performed. The energy is right. The fans are awesome. It gave us such a big lift. The performance was reflective of that."


The Q2 Stadium on Mc Kalla Pl, Austin, TX was rocking this past Saturday as the crowd watched former FC Dallas star Maximiliano Urruti light it up for two goals en route to a much-needed convincing win for Wolff and the rest of the club. Austin FC is one of three teams that has two players with four or more goals so far this season. The second-half goal by Sebastián Driussi moved him to a tie for the league lead in goals with Toronto FC's Spanish striker Jesús Jiménez. The three goals on their home soil on Saturday moved them back to the top of the league in goals scored. It is the fourth match this season that Austin FC has found the back of the net five or more times in the span of 90 minutes. Last season was an experiment for the new expansion side with a lot of promise and belief that it could become an MLS powerhouse. Finishing second to last in the Western Conference and allowing the third-most goals in the entire MLS in 2021 has to be in the back of Austin FC's head as it continues to rocket up the standings.


During the mid-week, Austin FC played in the third round of the U.S Open Cup where it blew a one-goal lead in the final minutes of the match to a USL side, San Antonio Football Club. There were plenty of opportunities in that match for Austin FC to put together a win over a side that is nowhere near the talent and quality level that it possesses. Wolff and his squad dominated in every statistical category, but at the end that was not enough for the MLS side to move on in the oldest knockout tournament in American sports history. Seeing Austin FC recover from a frankly embarrassing result showed a whole lot of character. It would have been easy for the team to give in to the disheartening result and let it affect the rest of the fixtures coming up on the schedule.


The concern in New England continues to grow as the season progresses. Bruce Arena and the Revolution have not been able to find that spark that lifted them during 2021. After scoring the opening goal against D.C United, New England looked to have grabbed the momentum from the beginning of the match, but the story of the season has been the Revs' inability to hold onto leads. Brandon Bye's brilliant strike from outside the box in just the 6' could have been the turning point of the season until it wasn't.

C/O: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It is not like goalkeeper Brad Knighton is doing a bad job in the net, the defense lacks confidence when the opposition's offense is in their own box. The backline loses their marks on crosses and set-pieces far too often for New England to keep opponents off the scoreboard. While the team showed spirit in an attempt to come back at the end of the match, it was a microcosm of the season so far for the Revolution. The team continues to get so close to grinding out a tough result, but in the end, it just simply is not enough. It is the third game this season that New England lost 3-2 at the end of 90 minutes. If the Revolution want to turn their season around, Arena needs to focus on the back and work his way up the pitch.


The inevitable Earthquakes win finally came to fruition over the weekend. It was the fifth game this season that San Jose had scored two or more goals as it has netted the third-most goals in the entire MLS so far. San Jose still sits second to last in the Western Conference, but a last-minute win over one of the most consistent MLS squads, the Seattle Sounders should give this team that is known for scoring goals a lot of confidence it can discover ways to get results. San Jose went down two goals early on in the match, but it did not falter as the Quakes got a goal just before the half to turn the tide.


The Earthquakes have put together some dreadful collapses on their home soil this season, but Alex Covelo in his first match in charge was able to change the narrative. Matias Almeyda was relieved of his duties as the manager of the Earthquakes following a 2-2 draw against Nashville SC. It had been one long week for Covelo who took over a San Jose team that had been desperate for a win the entire season. 3-1 down and the Quakes showed some identity and grit as the crowd in San Jose was up and ready to see how the Covelo era started.


If he does find his way to becoming the full-time manager for the Earthquakes, he will be forever remembered for his postgame statement, "I learned one sentence here when I came...A friend of mine told me, ‘Goonies never say die.’ So here we are." The former Barcelona academy player brings both experience and a new beginning for the Earthquakes who have not finished above eighth place in the Western Conference since 2017.

C/O: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Every team has now played at least seven contests, but there is still little separation at the top of each conference. LAFC looks to be the most consistent, but Austin FC has the largest goal differential in the league at +13 as it eyes the top of the conference next week with a win over the Houston Dynamo. A new coach for the Earthquakes proves to equal a memorable result, and the mood around the club takes a turn. The competition in Major League Soccer is unmatched compared to any other pro sports league in the United States. From comebacks to nine-goal thrillers, the MLS is turning into must-watch TV for the entire country.


-Caden

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