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Major League Soccer
Feb 26, 2023 at 1.30am UK
Bold Stadium

2 - 3
Saint Louis City

Driussi (45+4'), Gallagher (72')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Parker (24'), Stroud (78'), Klauss (86')
Ostrak (17')

Preview: Austin FC vs. Saint Louis City - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Austin FC vs. Saint Louis City - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's Major League Soccer clash between Austin FC and Saint Louis City, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Major League Soccer kicks off a new campaign on Saturday with the newest club, Saint Louis City, travelling to Q2 Stadium for their first-ever regular season encounter against Austin FC.

In 2022, the Verde and Black were one of the surprise stories, making it to the Western Conference Final, while Saint Louis can become the first expansion franchise since Los Angeles FC in 2018 to win its inaugural regular season match.

Match preview

It was a memorable sophomore season for Josh Wolff and his Austin players, who grew by leaps and bounds, earning 56 points in 2022, a 25-point increase from their debut campaign.

Austin turned plenty of heads with their results a season ago, dazzling fans with an exciting attack-minded approach and a positional style of play, which finally clicked.

Following such a successful 2022 campaign, where they earned a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) for the first time in club history, the Verde and Black must now contend with something utterly foreign to them in MLS, the pressure of maintaining their status as an elite side.

Their supporters have plenty of reason for optimism, not just because of what they achieved last season, but also the fact that they re-signed the second-highest goalscorer from 2022, while they still have plenty of veterans returning for another campaign.

If the returnees can maintain the same consistency we saw last year, opposing defences will have a tough time keeping this team quiet, as the Verde and Black were only shut out once at home in 2022.

Many times during the previous regular season, Austin found themselves behind early but showed plenty of resolve to fight back, claiming 21 points from losing positions.

Since 2007, there have been rumblings that Major League Soccer would be coming to Greater Saint Louis, and that dream is now a reality.

The man tasked with developing this group will be Bradley Carnell, a former assistant with the New York Red Bulls from 2017-2021.

Under Carnell, we can probably expect to see this team press their opponents all over the field while trying to cut off switches, tactics which have been the blueprint of Red Bull clubs worldwide.

The former two-time UEFA Intertoto Cup winner at VfB Stuttgart has said that his side will play an intense, transitional style of play with a front-foot approach, similar to the brand of football current Bayern Munich boss Julian Nagelsmann brought when managing RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim.

In the pre-season, we saw plenty of encouraging signs that this team can compete, losing just two of their six encounters, though it remains to be seen if that will continue when this competition begins.

There are not many mega names, if at all, on this roster heading into the regular season, but they have lots of experienced MLS players, along with a handful of individuals who have featured in the Bundesliga.

Austin FC friendlies form:
  • L
  • D
  • D

Saint Louis City friendlies form:
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • L

Team News

Austin head into their third MLS campaign without any significant injury news and will be counting on Gyasi Zardes to shoulder the scoring load this season, with the American finding the back of the net nine times for the Colorado Rapids last season, while Saint Louis-born Will Bruin signed a one-year contract earlier this month from the Seattle Sounders, where he helped them win the MLS Cup in 2019.

Sebastian Driussi was the target man up front for the Verde and Black throughout the 2022 campaign, scoring 22 goals, second in the regular season behind Hany Mukhtar of Nashville SC, and the Argentine recently signed a multi-year contract which includes three guaranteed years through the end of the 2025 season plus an option for 2026.

Diego Fagundez was second in the league regarding assists in 2022 with 15, Brad Stuver collected eight clean sheets, while Alexander Ring has become one of the top defensive midfielders in the league.

Goalkeeper Roman Burki has been named the first-ever captain of Saint Louis, with the Swiss international coming over from Borussia Dortmund, where he became the first keeper to keep five clean sheets in his first five Bundesliga games.

Indiana Vassilev made 24 appearances for Inter Miami last season and was taken by Saint Louis in the 2022 MLS Expansion Draft, making a permanent move from Aston Villa, Jared Stroud was traded to them from Austin last November in exchange for $100,000 (£83,028) in General Allocation Money, while Jake Nerwinski and Tim Parker have over 350 matches worth of MLS experience.

Caden Glover has shown plenty of promise, with the first-ever home-grown player recording a goal and an assist in three matches during MLS NEXT Fest last year, Selmir Pidro won two domestic titles in Bosnia and Herzegovina at Sarajevo, while Klauss had two goals for them in pre-season.

Austin FC possible starting lineup:
Stuver; Gallagher, Vaisanen, Cascante, Lima; Pereira, Ring; Rigoni, Driussi, Fagundez; Zardes

Saint Louis City possible starting lineup:
Burki; Nerwinski, Hiebert, Parker, Pidro; Blom, Lowen; Stroud, Ostrak, Alm; Klauss

We say: Austin FC 3-1 Saint Louis City

Expansion teams have been able to develop quickly in this league, but it still takes time to have the continuity needed to be successful, and we expect the learning curve will be a steep one for Saint Louis early on.

Whether or not Austin have fixed its defensive issues remains unknown, but even so, this team know who they are and have numerous attacking weapons at their disposal.

How to watch

You can watch Austin FC vs. Saint Louis City and every MLS match this season live on Apple TV. Click here for more details on how to subscribe.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.
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Read more about Josh Wolff Bradley Carnell Julian Nagelsmann Gyasi Zardes Will Bruin Sebastian Driussi Hany Mukhtar Diego Fagundez Brad Stuver Alexander Ring Roman Burki Indiana Vassilev Jared Stroud Jake Nerwinski Tim Parker Caden Glover Selmir Pidro Klauss Football
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Premier League Table

Eastern Conference

1Inter MiamiInter Miami25165456391753
2FC CincinnatiCincinnati25153744331148
3Columbus Crew23127447222543
4New York Red BullsNY Red Bulls251011442311141
5New York City FCNY City2511593630638
6Charlotte FCCharlotte FC2510783027337
7Orlando City259793938134
9Atlanta UnitedAtlanta2577113536-128
10Philadelphia UnionPhiladelphia2569104542327
11CF MontrealMontreal2569103449-1527
12Nashville SCNashville2568112639-1326
13DC United2568113550-1526
14Chicago Fire2567123042-1225
15New England RevolutionNew England2372142347-2423

Western Conference

1Los Angeles GalaxyLA Galaxy26147550361449
2Los Angeles FCLos Angeles24145548301847
3Real Salt LakeSalt Lake25128551341744
4Colorado RapidsColorado2612595043741
5Vancouver WhitecapsVancouver2411584335838
6Houston DynamoHouston2410773530537
7Seattle SoundersSeattle2510783429537
8Portland TimbersPortland2510695042836
9Minnesota UnitedMinnesota Utd2596104041-133
10Austin FCAustin2587102837-931
12Sporting Kansas CityKansas2666144152-1124
13St Louis City25411103246-1423
14San Jose EarthquakesEarthquakes2542193161-3014
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