Crew-Austin FC Preview

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Austin FC are targeting new signings as they aim to combat a growing injury list, so says coach Josh Wolff, who is hoping a run of four straight home games will boost their form.

The expansion franchise started well in 2021, but are now winless in seven and were defeated 2-0 by Minnesota United last time out.

Reigning MLS champions Columbus Crew are next up for Wolff’s side, and the coach knows his team are in need of reinforcements.

“There’s a certain amount of room that we have on our roster and we’ve had injuries and we’ve added to that unfortunately,” he said.

“We’ve been looking at players but if you make a big commitment now based on just right now, it can be a little hasty. We certainly need a striker, that’s an obvious thing. We don’t have one, we’re piecing it together each game.

“We have to be mindful of not making a knee-jerk reaction. We need a striker, we’ve been looking and we’re zeroing on a couple of guys.”

Asked how the support of the home crowd will help, Wolff added: “We’ll definitely need to lean on them. That will be extremely helpful.

“Physically we need bodies, we need players. Right now it’s difficult but we’ve got to continue working as the staff.”

Crew also head into Sunday’s meeting on the back of a defeat, having gone down 1-0 to Philadelphia Union.

“Unfortunately, we’re left empty-handed, but I thought the guys’ effort and attitude were incredible,” Caleb Porter said after that match.

“We’re not disappointed in the performance. We’re disappointed in the result.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Austin FC – Sebastian Berhalter

Wolff plays a possession-based style, and midfielder Sebastian Berhalter is a beneficiary. He had 100 touches against Minnesota, creating a team-high two chances.

Columbus Crew – Darlington Nagbe

Darlington Nagbe completed 61 of 62 passes against Philadelphia on Wednesday. His 98.4 per cent passing accuracy rate is the highest of any Crew player with a minimum of 50 passes in an MLS match since Opta began collecting passing data in 2010.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Austin played a scoreless draw against the San Jose Earthquakes in their first-ever home MLS match. Only two teams have gone scoreless in their first two home matches in MLS: The Red Bulls (then-MetroStars) in 1996 and the Miami Fusion in 1998.

– The Crew have won only one of their last 17 away matches (D7 L9) going back to September 2019, including a 1-0 defeat at the Union on Wednesday. Columbus has failed to find the net in five of their last seven away matches, including four of the last five.

– Austin has failed to score in six of its first 10 MLS matches, the first expansion team in MLS history to fail to score in more than half of their first 10 matches.

– An expansion side has defeated a defending MLS Champion only four times since 2005, with LAFC being the last team to do it, defeating Toronto in 2018.

– The Crew fell victim to an expansion Seattle side in 2009 when they were reigning champions, losing 1-0 at home on a Roger Levesque goal.

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