As Austin FC gets ready to enter the unofficial midseason break — MLS teams will have played 14 matches in a 34-game schedule after Sunday, and El Tree won’t take the field for a league match again until June 18 — it will do something for the first time this season.
Three weeks after losing to the Los Angeles Galaxy 1-0 at Q2 Stadium, El Tree will head to California for the return game with the Galaxy, the club’s first instance of seeing an opponent for the second time this year. It also will be a matchup of two of the top five teams in the Western Conference.
Austin FC coach Josh Wolff, whose team is tied for the second-most points in the league at 24, noted that even though the teams played earlier this month, the game will have a feel of its own and might have few similarities to the previous matchup.
“There’s always little tweaks you make so you don’t go in with the exact same game plan,” he said. “I know (Galaxy coach) Greg Vanney well and have coached against him several times as an assistant and head coach, and he has a variety of ways of playing the game. He makes several adjustments in-game that are built into the way they play, but they’ll have a different approach playing at home, where I’m sure they’ll be aggressive as they haven’t had the greatest recent results, either.”
While El Tree has gone 1-1-1 since the last meeting, Los Angeles has two losses and a tie in league play, though it has won two U.S. Open Cup matches during that time and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Cup competition.
But Wolff said his club is more focused on itself and getting better than on the Galaxy’s results on the field the past 20 days. He said this is a chance for Austin FC to finish off a brilliant first three months of the season by getting points on the road.
“We have a better understanding of who they are since we’ve played them, but we’ve had three games since then where there’s things in each of those games that we need to improve on,” he said. “We’re in mile 14 of a 34-mile marathon, so to speak, and now when you see a team for the second time, there’s some familiarity in preparation, but it’s all about growing.
"They’re a good team, in our conference, and this is the last game before the break, so we’ll pour everything we can into it and freshen up after that.”
Sebastián Driussi named to team of the week
Forward Sebastián Driussi was named to the MLS team of the week for the fifth time this season after his performance in El Tree’s 2-2 tie against Orlando City.
With eight goals and four assists on the year and as arguably the best player on the field no matter who the opponent is, Driussi has made a strong case to be the league MVP up to this point, but Wolff said the team needs to do a better job of getting him more time on the ball.
“He comes into games with a consistency and is obviously a very impactful player,” Wolff said. “He has an uncanny ability of when to turn it up, has a great work ethic, and his talent is quite clear — he does a lot of things other players can’t do. We have to work on him getting more touches as the more the better since he does a lot of things connecting the run of play.”
Owen Wolff called up to U.S. national team
Midfielder Owen Wolff was named to the under-19 U.S. men’s national team for the upcoming international session and will take part in the team’s training Tuesday through June 10 in Marbella, Spain, and matches vs. England and Norway.
The son of head coach Josh Wolff has made six appearances for Austin FC this year and started the team’s last two matches against LAFC and Orlando City.
Austin FC at LA Galaxy, 5 p.m., Unimás, 97.5
This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Austin FC prepares for away match with LA Galaxy