AUSTIN (KXAN) — Pinch yourselves, Austin FC fans – you haven’t been dreaming for the past few months.
The first half of Austin’s second MLS season could hardly have gone better. After playing 17 of 34 matches, Austin has nine wins, four draws, and four defeats, for a total of 31 points.
That matches the number of points the Verde and Black managed across their entire inaugural season, and the dramatic uptick in form has the MLS playoffs firmly in sight.
At the midway point of the season, KXAN took a look at the numbers that have defined Austin FC’s second season.
26 – The number of teams below Austin FC in MLS’ Supporters’ Shield standings.
The Supporters’ Shield is a prestigious prize – it’s the trophy awarded to the team that gains the most points during the MLS regular season.
At the halfway point, 26 of the 28 teams in MLS are below Austin FC in the standings, representing a major achievement for the young franchise.
The only team above Austin is a certified juggernaut. LAFC has 36 points and is set to reload with the imminent arrivals of European soccer legends Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini.
LA may be the best team in the country, but that didn’t stop Austin from walking into Banc of California Stadium and beating them 2-1 May 18.
48 – The number of points needed to make the playoffs in MLS.
Last year, the teams that earned the final playoff position in both the Eastern and Western Conference gained exactly 48 points.
If that is the benchmark, Austin is well on its way to the postseason – requiring just 17 points from the final 17 matches.
Considering the team has 31 points through the first half of the season, it appears that a major drop in form is the only thing that could keep Austin FC from playing its first-ever MLS playoff match this fall.
12 – Goal contributions by Sebastian Driussi.
It is impossible to overstate the contributions of Austin’s best player.
Across the league, only one player has scored more than the Argentine midfielder’s nine MLS goals, and he’s chipped in to help his teammates with three assists (secondary assists not included).
The 26-year-old is the heartbeat of Austin’s attack and ranks among the favorites for league MVP. He has started every MLS game this season – it is hard to imagine the team maintaining their current success if Driussi is forced to miss time with injury.
17 – Age of Owen Wolff.
At just 17 years and six months old, the son of head coach Josh Wolff was not expected to become a key contributor just yet – but the younger Wolff has been the most pleasant surprise in a season that has been filled with them.
He seized his chance during a dynamic appearance as a substitute against Real Salt Lake in May and hasn’t missed a game since, starting six straight matches and becoming an important figure for the Verde and Black, especially during Cecilio Dominguez’s prolonged absence.
His name hasn’t appeared on the scoresheet yet, but it appears to be a matter of time before the USA youth international is making even more of an impact for his team.
7 – Goals by Austin FC substitutes.
This season, Josh Wolff has regularly turned to his bench and found players itching to make a difference.
Over 17 games, seven Austin FC goals have been scored by substitutes (two each for Ethan Finlay and Danny Hoesen, one each for Diego Fagundez, Moussa Djitte and Dani Pereira).
It speaks to the enormous improvement in Austin’s depth that substitutes have made a major impact off the bench. In the club’s debut season, only one goal was scored by a substitute all year – McKinze Gaines’ memorable strike in a 2-0 home win against LA Galaxy.
1 – Brad Stuver’s jersey number.
Stuver’s number may have changed – let’s face it, wearing 1 is a much cleaner look than the clunky 41 he rocked last season – but his performances have remained steadily excellent.
Austin’s goalkeeper is a big fan favorite and continues to leave a mark on the community with his work off the pitch.
In late June, he was named a finalist for the 2022 Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award, presented by ESPN – a reflection of his work with multiple nonprofits in Central Texas.
Oh, and he’s proven himself as one of the best keepers in MLS, with five clean sheets already this season.