Austin FC: Three considerations entering week 12 of the MLS Season

Austin FC fans after game against Columbus Crew at Q2 Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Austin FC fans after game against Columbus Crew at Q2 Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /

We’re almost a third of the way through the MLS season. Our beloved Austin FC are currently 12th in the western conference with a record of 2-5-4. Far from playoff contention, the Verde’s poor current form (4 draws and a loss) leaves much to be desired.

Marred by inconsistency, they occasionally play with the quality expected of a playoff team – matching the level of intensity in outings against top ranked opponents ( i.e. vs. Seattle, Columbus)

With about two thirds of the season left, the playoff picture has yet to be determined.  With many factors in and out of Austin FC’s control, here are three considerations that will affect their chances.

Home field advantage

Sunday’s home match against ‘rivals’ Columbus showed viewers a glimpse of just how much the city of Austin can be a force in MLS. All night we saw a packed stadium of twenty-thousand-plus fans rabidly cheering on the Verde. The energy felt in the stands translated onto the field as the Verde dominated possession against the current MLS Cup Champions.

With 15 of the next 23 matches played on home soil, we should hope to see much more of this atmosphere. The 8 week long journey to away games is a thing of the past. It was clear that towards the end players were fatigued, now they can enjoy a longer resting period.

Playing a majority of games at home should give Austin FC a competitive advantage especially with the heat and humidity during the summer months.

Stuver’s Golden Gloves

If we were to currently name a midseason MVP, Brad Stuver would definitely be the front runner.

In 11 games Stuver has recorded 5 clean sheets while only allowing 11 goals. Never allowing more than 2 goals in a single match, Stuver has already compiled a lengthy highlight reel of acrobatic saves that should garner some national recognition.

If he continues to play at this level, Austin FC will have a fighting chance at a post-season birth.

Production, production, production

Honestly, at this point I don’t care where it comes from, this team needs goals. There has been an obvious lack of quality and conviction in the final third. For a team that was initially labeled as “free flowing” or “attack-minded”, these past few weeks have been a major letdown. It seems as if they are overthinking and not simply just executing whenever they carry the ball in and around their opponents goal. This issue is not specific to any one individual, it applies to the team as a whole.

As a unit – the midfield trio of Ring, Fagundez, and Pochettino have failed to produce consistent scoring threats (only Fagundez has gotten on the scoresheet this season). It would be nice to see them take more shots from deep. It would test the defence while also allowing opportunities for rebounded goals.

Part of the problem rests squarely on management, Reyna and company need to do their due diligence and try to bring in reinforcements that could potentially invigorate this team.

At the time of writing this article, Austin have announced that striker Danny Hoesen will be out for the remainder of the season. Thankfully, they were in the process of acquiring Senegalese striker Moussa Djitté as his replacement. (Safe to say Reyna is well aware of the issues at hand).