October’s first MLS fixtures sees Austin FC take on Real Salt Lake at Q2 Stadium. The hosts will be looking to pick up where they left off last time out at home, while the visitors will be looking to do considerably better than their last away-day effort.
This will be just the second ever meeting between the pair. Back in August, Real Salt Lake beat Austin FC by a goal to nil at Rio Tinto Stadium. While they look for more of the same, Saturday’s hosts seek revenge.
Austin FC – Same old story
It was the same old story for the Austin FC boys on Wednesday evening, as they tasted away against the Colorado Rapids. Last weekend, they delivered an improved performance to get the better of the Los Angeles Galaxy at home, but Josh Wolff’s men couldn’t follow up away from the comforts of Q2 Stadium, as has been the case far too many times this season. In fact, each of the last four times that Saturday’s hosts have regained the winning thread, they’ve lost it immediately after.
Fortunately, in front of a home crowd is where Austin is strongest, so there should be some level of confidence in the dressing room ahead of this game, confidence which ought to be increased by the poor away form of the visiting team.
Expected Line-Up: Stuver – Lima, Cascante, Romana, Kolmanic – Pochettino, Pereira – Fagundez, Driussi, Dominguez – Djitte.
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Real Salt Lake – Road rage
Unlike the hosts, Real Salt Lake arrives here off the back of victory last time out. The visitors beat LA Galaxy on Wednesday evening, but did so in front of a home crowd. Playing away from home has presented RSL with no shortage of problems this season, so there’s plenty of reason for rage.
The visiting side not only lost last time out on the road, but has walked away from six of the last seven travelling fixtures without a point. Such form is poor to say the least, and it’s no surprise that RSL now rate inside the bottom half of the Western Conference for points claimed away from home. They average just 0.85 points per game on their travels.
Expected Line-Up: Ochoa – Glad, Holt, Datkovic – Herrera, Ruiz, Luiz, Chang – Rusnak, Kreilach, Rubin.
Expert Pick #1 – Austin to Score Over 1.5 Goals @+100
The hosts did fail to find the net in Colorado during the week, but we shouldn’t read too much into that. What we should focus on is their recent attacking form at home, which has been reasonably solid. Austin scored twice on route to victory against the Galaxy when last seen at this venue, while Wolff’s men have now found the back of the net at least twice in four of their last five at home, as well as in five of their last seven, scoring three goals on four of those occasions. For all they’re not a side that wins often, scoring goals at home has been little problem.
And it’s not just that the hosts have been scoring with regularity at home, they’ve also produced some encouraging expected goals numbers, recording a solid average of 1.76 xG for. Meanwhile, the visitors have conceded their fair share of travelling goals of late, conceding six (YES SIX) away at Portland in their last away game, conceding at least twice in each of the five road games that preceded that defeat.
Expert Pick #2 – Real Salt Lake to Score Over 1.5 @+120
Siding with visiting goals is also an option. For all RSL has defended somewhat terribly in recent away games, they’ve produced some pleasing attacking displays, while they’re not exactly up against the meanest defence, so much so that they look a decent price to bag a couple.
It’s been six away games since RSL failed to score, while the visitors have scored seven in their last three, notching at least twice in two of those. Moreover, in their last six on the road, they’ve averaged a pleasing 1.63 xG for. Of equal importance is the fact that Austin has surrendered 14 goals in their last six at home, conceding two or more in four of those six.
Expert Pick #3 – Over 3.5 Goals @+155
Sticking with the goal theme, supporting four or more match goals to be scored is another viable option. As the above suggests, neither have covered themselves in glory, while neither have been able to avoid high-scoring games in their respective home and away matches of late. The net has been hit four or more times in four of Austin’s last five at home, while the same can be said for the visitors on the road. We’re also talking about the team with the second worst home defensive record in the west, as well as the team with the second worst defensive record on the road.
For similar reasons, both teams ought to view this as a massive opportunity to fill their boots offensively. Both teams have been weak in defense for a while, while both have scored no shortage of goals in recent weeks. Those in attendance at Q2 stadium should see an attacking encounter, one with no shortage of goal-mouth action.