AUSTIN (KXAN) — After Austin FC dismantled the top team in Major League Soccer 4-1 on Friday, both players and coaches reflected on what Verde has done in its second year on the verge of the club’s first playoff appearance.
While it’s not official, it would take a collapse of epic proportions for Austin FC to not make the playoff field. With seven matches remaining after the blowout win over LAFC at Q2 Stadium, Austin FC sits second in the Western Conference and in line for home-field advantage in the first round.
But it’s not a done deal yet, and while it’s easy to get ahead of yourself after such an emphatic win over a quality opponent, you still have to trust the process and stick with what got you to that point, Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff said.
“It’s a massive win for this organization … we know this league is gaining notoriety and certainly visibility all around the world, and to present who we are as a club alongside LAFC and what the league is about is something to be proud of,” Wolff said. “There’s a lot of games with a lot of good teams left. We don’t look beyond the next game. Wednesday comes a little quicker, so we’ll freshen up and it’ll be nice to use some other guys in the coming games, but we’ll see where this group is at.”
It’s happened a handful of times in MLS that a team one year removed from its expansion year has qualified for the playoffs, and while Wolff won’t entertain playoff talk quite yet, some of the players are just too excited to not.
“To be here for almost two years now, and to see how the club has evolved and the players have bought in and the results that have dropped for us, it’s truly special,” Austin FC goalkeeper Brad Stuver said. “It’s something we want to continue doing for the rest of the regular season and build momentum for the playoffs.”
Defender Nick Lima called the result “a big boy performance,” and commented on the team’s resiliency after losing 2-1 on the road to Minnesota United previously.
“The camaraderie within the locker room and the consistency have shown,” Lima said. “We’ve come a long way in two years, but at the same time, we’re not even close to where we want to be. It’s just the beginning and there’s a lot of work ahead.”
Diego Fagunez, who scored a tremendous free kick goal for Verde’s first against LAFC, put it as simply as he possible could after the win.
“I think we have a really good team, and it showed today,” he said. “We’re united, and when we work hard, we can finish games, especially at home. Today was a special one for everybody.”
Wednesday’s match against Portland could be tricky considering what the Timbers have done to put themselves in playoff position. They secured the Cascadia Cup, a fan-created trophy much like the Copa Tejas, with a 2-1 win Aug. 26 over the Seattle Sounders. The win gave the Timbers a 1-point edge over rival Vancouver, and after playing in the MLS Cup match last year, they’re going to give Austin their best shot.
“We’ve got three points available on Wednesday, and we’ll try to grab points when we can,” Wolff said. “We can’t concern ourselves too much with all the other teams. We win, and we’ll see what the board looks like come the end of the year.”