Austin FC had their fair share of struggles in 2021 as an expansion side in MLS. They had the worst goal differential in the Western Conference at -21, the least amount of goals in the entire league with 35. However, 2022 is a new season, and the MLS schedule makers were very obliging to manager Josh Wolff and Austin FC.
Not only did they give the second-year side with superfan and minority owner Matthew McConaughey two straight home games to start the season, they also made them winnable. Austin took care of 2019 expansion side FC Cincinnati, 5-0, in the opener. Now, they get 2020 expansion side Inter Miami. Last year, MLS bettors were able to make a killing on both of these teams. Now they meet for the first time ever.
Things get noticeably harder for the Texas side after this week’s game. They will face the last two Western Conference champions in the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders, back-to- back in match weeks three and four. That’s why it’s imperative for the green and black to take all three points here, as they’re favored to do at -155.
Former Manchester United teammates David Beckham and Phil Neville have resurfaced in Miami and so far, the results are lackluster. With Beckham as team president and Neville as manager, Miami scored just 36 times last season, 12 by former Juventus star Gonzalo Higuaín.
Higuaín didn’t get a shot on goal in the opener as Inter Miami played to a scoreless draw against the Chicago Fire. They did, however, commit 21 fouls, so at least they’re close to leading the league in a category. Miami escaped the game relatively healthy, as it prepares for a first-ever contest in the state of Texas.
Chemistry will be a big issue for the Herons in the early part of the 2022 season. Neville handed opening-game starts to six new players, acquired by Beckham in the offseason. Most notably are USMNT defender DeAndre Yedlin, who came back from the England Premier League, and goalkeeper Clement Diop.
Austin FC started 2022 with a bang and a franchise-record five goals. Cecilio Domínguez scored in the second minute, a perfect start to the season, and captain Alexander Ring made it 2-0 just 12 minutes later. Dominguez added another and Sebastian Driussi scored. Cincinnati was so bad, they scored the fifth goal for Austin.
Wolff has some reinforcements this season as Austin looks to climb the standings from 13th place. Most notably is striker Maxi Urruti, who can help Dominguez. Midfielders Felipe and Ethan Finlay should help as well, though Finlay didn’t play against FCC.
One thing we know about Austin is they love to shoot, and from anywhere. Using a 3-5-2 formation, they will blast the ball, evidenced by 19 shots in the opener. They did score on four of the five actually put on target.
Austin is favored at -155, with Inter Miami as a rather significant +475 underdog. The total goals is 2½, with the under at +100 and the over at -120. Keep in mind that last year, these were the two lowest-scoring teams in the league, which is why that value is available at the inder total. A draw in Austin is listed at +390, largely because Austin played just four draws in 34 games last year while Miami had five.
Austin FC have a great opportunity, but that also has to be the approach of the Miami players. If they can find an early goal, then taking all three points back to Miami is reasonable.