A pair of teams in need of a little pick-me-up juice clash at Banc of California Stadium on Wednesday, as Los Angeles FC host Austin FC (10.30pm ET). With both vying for supremacy at the top of the Western Conference, can either team get the result they need? This LAFC vs Austin MLS game preview, and its betting predictions and picks, will work that out.
After a period of improvement and strong results, going unbeaten in six in all competitions, winning five of those six, LAFC took a step in the wrong direction last time, losing by two goals to zero on the road against the Colorado Rapids. Such a result wasn’t enough for them to drop away from the summit of the Western Conference, but their lead at the top is now just one point. Wednesday’s visitors are only three points behind in third position.
After an explosive start to the campaign where they seemingly could not stop scoring, the visitors have also tailed off in recent weeks. They remain in a lofty position in the west, but Josh Wolff’s men are out of form having lost each of their last two Major League Soccer games, losing first at home to the Los Angeles Galaxy, before suffering defeat on the road at Real Salt Lake last time. Given their early season scoring form, the fact that the Austin attack has netted just one goal in their last two fixtures is slightly worrying.
Conference leaders can be got at
LAFC lead the way in the west, and it’s not overly easy to criticize them, but maybe they’re not as infallible as their league position suggests. After all, they’ve lost two of their last six, only three of which they’ve won. This suggests that they can be got at, as does the fact that they’ve kept just one clean sheet in their last eight Major League Soccer fixtures. In four of those eight, their opponents have scored at least twice, which again tells us that they have a few issues defensively.
Sure, if we break it down into performances at home and on the road, then LAFC come out looking like a strong home team, and that’s exactly what they are, though their home record is not without blemish. Both the Portland Timbers and the Philadelphia Union have left Banc of California Stadium with something to show for their efforts this season, while four of the six teams that have visited that venue have got on the scoresheet.
Visitors won’t lie down
Sure, the visitors come here off the back of some poor results, but it is not like they have been getting severely beaten, losing by no more than a single goal, while we’ve already seen them pick up several excellent results against good teams.
On their travels, results wise, it has been a mixed bag, with the Austin boys picking up two wins, two losses and a tie, though in each of those six games they’ve shown the ability to stay in the fight. They’ve scored in all but one of their five traveling fixtures, scoring two or more in three of the other four, and at no point have they lost by more than a single goal. Such form suggests that they should get competitive in LA on Wednesday night.
Recent history favors the hosts
After seeing plenty of each other during the 2021 campaign, this will be the fourth meeting between the two teams since Austin FC entered the league. Last season, it was LAFC who dominated, winning not one, not twice, but thrice against Wolff’s newbies. When the pair last met at this venue, just over a year ago, LAFC won by two goals to nil. After scoring their first goal against Los Angeles FC in the last of the three showdowns last season, the visitors will now be looking for a first point in this fixture.
Visitors offer value
After what was a disappointing display from LAFC in Colorado, the USA sportsbooks’ betting lines expect the hosts to bounce back to form with a certain degree of ease, though it’s not difficult to conclude that they’re slightly short in the early odds. After all, Austin FC, as we’ve seen, are no pushovers, so much so that there might just be some juice in odds of +500 on the away win.
At the current odds, the best option is Austin FC +1 on the spread. Plenty about the way the visitors have gone about their business suggests that they can get something from this game. For starters, they’ve dug deep and have been tough to beat on their travels, while they are also up there with LAFC as the joint top scorers in the Western Conference, and with Sebastian Driussi and Diego Fagundez in their ranks, they have the firepower to do some damage.
We are also talking about a side that sits comfortably inside the top six in the west for both xG for and xG against on the road so far this season, while they are the third best in the division when it comes to points collected per 90 minutes away from the comforts of home.
If we combine the above with the fact that Los Angeles FC arrive here not in the best form having failed to win either of their last two fixtures, one of which was at this venue, then visitors start to look as if they’ve got a slightly better chance of tussling with the hosts than the betting odds suggest.
A secondary option is ‘Austin to Score Over 1.5 Goals’. As touched on previously, Steve Cherundolo’s men are far from infallible at the back, and they’ve conceded multiple goals plenty of times this season already. What’s more, Austin have scored two or more in three of their last four on the road, and in Driussi and Fagundez, they have one of MLS’s most deadly duos, so don’t be surprised if they hurt the hosts. So these are our LAFC vs Austin FC betting picks and predictions for this MLS matchup preview at best odds: