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How Can Austin FC Improve Next Season?
Published 1:39 pm Wednesday, October 25, 2023
Any true fan of the beautiful game would tell you soccer is very straightforward. Do the simple things right: ensure your passes connect successfully, intelligent wing play, score enough goals, and keep your opponents out; victory is all but certain.
But Austin FC does not seem to have gotten the memo with a shambolic ending last season and a less-than-encouraging record this season. It would appear that they have gotten into a rut they will not soon escape from. While the Austin manager, Josh Wolff, seems to be doing his best and his players giving their all, we have some pointers that just might help “El Tree” find some footing.
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The team currently sits 12th in the Western Conference and did not qualify for the 2023 playoffs. Depending on who you ask, last season was the best in the team’s history as they clinched a playoff spot, finishing second in the Western Conference with 56 points but failing to qualify for the MLS Cup as they lost to Western Conference champions Los Angeles FC.
You would expect that fans are more forgiving of recent results, seeing as the club was on the brink of an MLS cup outing, especially a club only three seasons old as it started to play in the MLS in the 2021 season, although founded in 2018. But you will be wrong because if one thing is constant across all leagues and levels of soccer, it is that fans have a very short memory. Who can blame them? They support the club every which way; they expect —scratch that, demand!— to see results in their team being competitive all year round, fighting for silverware.
About fighting for silverware, the answer is always goals, goals, and more goals! In the 2021 season, the team scored 35 goals, nearly doubled their tally with 65 goals in the 2022 season, and currently have 48 goals this season. Except for their standout season, while the goals can be much better, they are not what you’d call shabby. It only begins to look ugly when you “devil” into the details of who’s scoring the goals and you arrive at only one answer, one person, their attacking midfielder: Sebastián Driussi. He opened the season with fairly promising odds of +1200 at many of the best betting apps in Texas to be MLS’s top goalscorer of the season.
The 5’10” Buenos Aires and Argentinian national was voted MLS MVP in the 2022 season and made an appearance in the season’s best 11. You can argue he has been single-handedly putting Austin FC in silverware contention by contributing most of their goals. In the 2021 season, he scored 5 and assisted 3, tallying up to 8 goal contributions of their 35 goals, roughly 23% of the goals scored. In the 2022 season, he scored 25 and assisted 6 times, tallying up to 31 goal contributions of their 65-goal haul, roughly 48% of the goals scored that season, and has 13 goals and 4 assists this season, roughly 35% of goals scored this season.
He is doing well for the team, but you could argue that’s too much responsibility for only one man. Imagine someone else in the team was racking up Sebastián Driussi’s numbers. Would they have reached the MLS Cup last season? What the team needs is players like Diego Fagundez, Gyasi Zardes, Ethan Finlay, and Emiliano Rigoni, to name a few, to rise to the occasion. If all these quality players were firing on all cylinders, Austin FC would be where they need to be on the MLS table.
But it does not stop there. Scoring goals with a leaky net is a futile effort. This season, the Austin FC goalie, Brad Stuver, has only kept 6 clean sheets in the 33 matches he has started. Last season, he kept only 8 clean sheets, and only 5 clean sheets in the 2021 season. If the team is serious about being MLS champions, they need to invest in goalkeeper coaching or bring in a new goalie who can decide on those tight matches.