Supporters’ Shield winners LAFC host Austin FC in Sunday’s Western Conference Final with a place at MLS Cup on the line.
The Black and Gold enjoyed a stellar regular season, finishing top overall with 67 points and 21 wins from 34 games, carrying that form into the Playoffs with a dramatic 3-2 victory against arch-rivals the LA Galaxy in the previous round.
But though they finished 11 points adrift of LAFC, Austin enjoyed an excellent campaign of their own, coming second in the West after finishing all the way down in 12th last season.
Josh Wolff’s side have already overcome some serious hurdles in the post-season, beating Real Salt Lake on penalties after a 2-2 draw before seeing off Texas rivals FC Dallas 2-1 last time out.
The hosts will be the favorites, but this should be a close encounter between two excellent attacking units.
Here’s how to watch LAFC vs Austin FC on TV and streaming services:
LAFC vs Austin FC H2H Results (Last Five Games)
Current form (Last Five Games)
LAFC team news
LAFC didn’t pick up any injuries or suspensions against the Galaxy and, so, can field another full-strength side here.
The major headaches for Steve Cherundolo lie in Giorgio Chiellini and Gareth Bale, with the former only a late substitute against the Galaxy and the latter not making the matchday squad at all.
LAFC starting XI (4-3-3): Crepeau; Hollingshead, Murillo, Segura, Palacios; Cifentues, Ilie, Acosta; Vela, Arango, Bouanga.
Austin FC team news
Like LAFC, Austin FC stayed clear of injuries as they beat FC Dallas.
Wolff will once again stick close to the lineup that won the Texas derby, meaning Moussa Djitte will get the nod over Maxi Urruti after opening the scoring in that match.
The only changes Wolff might make would be in order to strengthen his side’s spine to cope with the attacking power of LAFC, so Felipe Martins might well come in ahead of Daniel Pereira.
Austin FC starting XI (4-2-3-1): Stuver; Lima, Cascante, Gabrielsen, Gallagher; Ring, Martins; Finlay, Driussi, Fagundez; Djitte.
With the likes of Cristian Arango, Carlos Vela, and Sebastian Driussi around, this has the potential to be a high-scoring, thrilling encounter.
That said, LAFC have superior overall quality and although they’ve enjoyed a phenomenal turnaround this season and cannot be underestimated, Austin FC will likely be overpowered.
Austin should hold their own for long stretches, but LAFC just have that unique ability to suck the life out of their opponents across 90 minutes. Expect them to end their two-match winless streak against this weekend’s opponents.
Prediction: LAFC 3-1 Austin FC
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