Austin FC boss Josh Wolff says his squad have their eyes open to their successes and faults, following their sturdy start to the 2022 MLS campaign ahead of an easter trip to face D.C. United.

The Texan outfit have posted three wins, two draws and a loss from their opening six matches, to sit firmly among the pacesetters this term in the Western Conference.

Speaking ahead of a trip to the capital, where he used to ply his trade as both player and assistant coach, Wolff feels it has been a bright beginning for his side, but warned they can expect tougher challenges down the line.

“I think our guys have a clear perspective,” he stated. “We’re honest with ourselves, they are pleased with where are at. I think they feel we left points out there, but there’s tougher games coming.

“It’s a start, it’s a good start and we have to continue to perform well, build in the consistency and win our home games as much as we can. I think those are things that we can control.

“There are good teams in the west. The west is going to be very competitive all year.”

Opposite number Hernan Losada meanwhile has waxed lyrical about teenager Jackson Harper after the 17-year-old became the latest homegrown player added to their squad.

“Jackson started to train with us at the end of last season,” he stated. “We saw [his] qualities, and that’s why we took him with us in preseason. He’s still young, but I really like his character. “He can play in different positions, can be a number 8, a number 10, can play on the wings, can playas a second forward. So, he’s developed a lot, and still a lot to come.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

D.C. United – Julian Gressel

The defender has been called upon to help provide some crucial forward impetus from out of the rearguard this campaign, and he has risen to the challenge. He’s got 13 attacking assists to his name so far – not bad for a player whose position doesn’t always lend itself to high tallies.

Austin FC – Sebastian Driussi

The Argentine has been central to his side’s fiery start this term, proving to be an expert finisher in front of the goal. He’s nabbed four so far, and with a successful dribble ratio of 64.7 per cent, leaves most of his comparative leading scorers in the dust behind his efforts.

KEY OPTA FACTS

This will be the first ever meeting between D.C. United and Austin FC. D.C. has won only one of its last 10 matches against teams from Texas dating back to 2015 (D3 L6).

D.C. United has lost three straight matches for the third time since the start of last season, with two of those defeats coming at home. D.C. hasn’t lost three straight home MLS matches in nearly five years, since May 2017 when they lost to Montreal, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

After the 1-0 win over Minnesota on Sunday, Austin has won seven of its last nine home matches (D1 L1), outscoring opponents, 21-6 in those games. On the road, however, Austin is winless in 16 straight games (D3 L13) and has been outscored, 31-6, in those games.

Steve Birnbaum has won an MLS-high 7.0 aerial duels per 90 minutes this season (min. 200 minutes). Birnbaum has won 81.4 percent of his aerial duels this season (35/43), best in MLS among players with 20 or more aerial duels this season.

Maxi Urruti has scored in each of Austin FC’s last two games and could become the first player in club history to score in three in a row. Urruti has scored four goals in seven career games against D.C. United as he’s only scored more regular season goals in his MLS career against Vancouver (7 in 18 games).