Austin FC can make big statement if it handles league-leading LA Galaxy at Q2

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Winners of three of its last four matches, Austin FC will have a chance to prove they’re for real against the Western Conference’s top team Saturday at Q2 Stadium.

Coming off a 1-0 road win over the Houston Dynamo last week, Verde and Black hosts the LA Galaxy in the lone afternoon match on the Major League Soccer slate. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:45 p.m. CT and the game will be broadcast on FOX.

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Austin will have its hands full with a multi-faceted Galaxy attack that’s produced 59 shots on target and 21 goals. The club is led in scoring by Devan Joveljic, third in MLS with six goals, and Wolff knows they’ll need another stout defensive effort like the one against the Dynamo to get by LA.

“The guys are coming off a derby win, and the mindset and mentality of the group is extremely good,” Wolff said. “LA has put up good numbers and they have some things we need to be aware of. Our guys know that and they feel it. When we step into the game, we have to be aware of what it means when you play the league’s best.”

PREVIOUS MATCH: Rigoni nets 1st goal, Stuver stops six shots in Austin FC’s 1-0 win vs. Houston

Designated player Emiliano Rigoni opened his scoring ledger against the Dynamo, providing the game-winning goal in the 86th minute at Shell Energy Stadium off a service from CJ Fodrey. Rigoni has spent most of the season coming off the bench and hasn’t played a full 90 minutes since March 16, but he certainly made his 19 minutes against the Dynamo count. If he can finally get going, Sebastian Driussi and the rest of the attack could get a jolt and perhaps take the club to the next level.

“We know we can compete against any team in the league, regardless of whether we have good numbers or our first choices,” Wolff said. “It’s been challenging, there’s no doubt, and this season has provided some adversity. You can’t win with one player, you have to win with the collective group.”

After doing their typical scouting routine and preparation throughout the week, Wolff and the coaching staff see the Galaxy as “vulnerable” on defense. He thinks that if his club can get a couple of counter-attacks and turn the run of play quickly, the home fans will be sent home smiling.

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“Transition, we can certainly hurt them,” Wolff said. “They’re going to challenge us in some ways and we have to find opportunities to challenge them.”

One of the players who has to contribute to flipping the field for Austin is midfielder Dani Pereira. He had a nearly perfect passing game in a 4-3 win over San Jose. completing 98.4% of his attempts (60 of 61) and he’s taken at least one free kick in the past five matches. Eventually, his crisp distribution will lead to assists — it just hasn’t yet. He thinks the camaraderie within the team will help lead to more scoring.

“The tighter we are as a group, not just on the field but off it as well, makes it a lot better,” he said. “There’s more confidence to talk to each other and not take anything personally. We’re working toward the same goal.”

The Galaxy has allowed 15 goals in nine matches, tied for seventh-most in MLS, and they’ve committed just 89 fouls so they aren’t the most physical team in MLS either. They are, however, tied for the league lead with three red cards.

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