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MLS Western Conference: Austin FC's transformation, Atuesta's role & more on each team

We’re dissecting every MLS team in the Western Conference.

15 min read
Austin FC

Welcome back our two-part weekly MLS column here at Backheeled where we break down all 29 teams in the league.

I’ve got the West. Ben Wright’s got the East. The Quakes have a new DP. Let’s chat about the latest for each Western Conference squad, shall we?

To read up on the East, check out Ben’s rundown.

MLS Eastern Conference: Nashville’s historic struggles, Benteke dunks again & more on each team
We’re dissecting every MLS team in the Eastern Conference.

Austin FC

Result: 2-0 win vs. LA Galaxy

I’ve been high on Diego Rubio’s fit in Josh Wolff’s attack ever since he signed for Austin FC during the offseason. With a great combination of on-ball skill and off-ball movement, Rubio is just the sort of flexible forward Austin needed after their cross-heavy 2023 campaign. It was Rubio’s sharp eye for combination play that helped his team jump out to an early lead against the LA Galaxy in the early game on Saturday.

It’s hard to find a more quintessential Diego Rubio goal than this one:

Now, goals against the Galaxy these days mean far less than goals against just about any other team in MLS because, uh, LA’s defensive work is just that bad. But it’s hard not to be encouraged about what’s happening in the attack for Austin FC right now. After finishing third in the league in crosses per 90 last year (20.4), they’ve diversified and are down to 16th in the league in that category (16.6) on nearly identical final third possession numbers.

Maybe Austin just wanted to put on a good show for Florentino Perez? Either way, we’re seeing progress.

Colorado Rapids

Result: 2-1 loss at FC Cincinnati

You know how Erling Haaland broke soccer a couple of years ago, bringing never-seen-before speed (or at least a never-seen-before mixture of speed and off-ball movement) to the field? 

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