Austin FC continues MLS playoffs march
The Verde and Black continue their storybook season on Sunday.
Driving the news: In only its second season, Austin FC will play in the MLS Western Conference finals, against LAFC in Los Angeles.
Why it matters: There's redemption in this world. In its first campaign, Austin was a league bottom-dweller — and now they're one win away from the championship game.
Behind the turnaround: Resilience. All season long, Austin FC has come from behind to knock out opponents, including from a 2-0 deficit in the first round of the playoffs.
- Time. Players needed to absorb manager Josh Wolff's possession-focused strategy, Landon Cotham, co-host of the Austin FC podcast Moontower Soccer, tells Axios.
- The emergence of white-hot forward Sebastián Driussi, the Argentine player who joined Austin FC in the back half of last season and has scored 25 goals and 7 assists this year. He's a threat from every spot in the scoring third.
- Off-season pickups. Norwegian player Ruben Gabrielsen has "made the biggest splash by far, easily adjusting to the infamous physicality of the MLS and bossing opposition attackers," per the blog Capital City Soccer.
What they're saying: Gabrielsen and other off-season acquisitions — Felipe Martins, Maxi Urruti and Ethan Finlay — have "really helped the locker-room chemistry, the sense of family, the sense of belief within the group," Cotham says.
Between the lines: Austin FC beat LAFC in their two matchups this season — but LAFC has the better overall record.
How to watch: 2pm Sunday on ABC.
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