AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff wants his team to be pleased with what they’ve done in year two, but not to be satisfied.
One of the biggest season-long storylines in Major League Soccer has been the rebound of Verde from its predictable struggles in an expansion year to becoming an offensive juggernaut and contender for the Supporters’ Shield. When the club faces Sporting Kansas City for the second time in three weeks on Saturday at Q2 Stadium, Wolff wants his guys to stay hungry against a last-place team.
“There’s a lot to be proud of so far, but we’re not finished,” Wolff said. “We’re not where we want to be yet, we’re not a finished product. We haven’t clinched the playoffs, and until that’s done, we have to keep pushing.”
Essentially all alone in second place in the Western Conference with 45 points, nine clear of third-place FC Dallas but six behind LAFC for the conference lead, Verde can ill afford a misstep against a team it beat 2-0 on the road two weeks ago if they want to win the West.
Austin is coming off a wild 3-3 draw August 6 with the San Jose Earthquakes at home, that shows even the bottom teams in the league table can play with anyone on a given night. The point the Quakes earned at Q2 Stadium lifted them out of last place, switching spots with Sporting Kansas City.
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“We’re on the hunt right now,” Austin FC defender Jon Gallagher said. “We’re trying to close that gap between us and LAFC, and that’s just taking it one game at a time, and right now our focus is on Sporting.”
Sporting Kansas City turned around a 4-match winless streak August 6 with a 4-2 home victory over the LA Galaxy, so perhaps the club can carry over some momentum and put together a win to spoil it for the Verde supporters.
“Sporting is very strong out wide,” Gallagher said. “We know the challenge they’ll give us. We know the threat they pose, but we know how we can play and hurt them.”
Driussi in the MLS All-Star Game
Sebastian Driussi, the top scorer in MLS thus far and first-ever all-star selection from Austin FC, put in a half-hour shift in midfield for the MLS All-Stars in a 2-1 win over the Liga MX All-Stars on Wednesday at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Driussi picked up a foul in the sixth minute of the match and won a free kick in the 24th minute, but wasn’t involved in any scoring chances. LAFC’s Carlos Vela headed a cross into the net in the third minute of the match to give Team MLS an early 1-0 lead, and then Seattle’s Raul Ruidiaz sealed the win with a penalty kick goal in the 73rd minute.
One of the frontrunners for MLS MVP, Driussi has been one of the biggest reasons for Austin FC’s rise to relevance early in its existence. His league-leading 16 goals, paired with seven assists, means he’s been part of 23 goals for Verde — nearly half of the 50 goals Austin FC has scored this season.
How to watch/listen to Austin FC vs. Sporting Kansas City
8 p.m., August 13, Q2 Stadium
TV: The CW Austin (OTA channel 54); UniMas Austin (Spanish, tape delayed)
Steaming: MLS LIVE on ESPN+, Austin FC.com, Austin FC app; UnivisionAustin.com, Univision Austin App (Spanish)
Radio: KASE-FM Alt 97.5, KLQB-FM 104.3 HD2 (Spanish)