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MLS Western Conference: LAFC's El Trafico triumph, Seattle’s big win & more on each team

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

14 min read

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. LAFC have wild trivia questions. 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: The Red Bulls are legit, Caleb Porter’s promise & more on each team
We’re dissecting every MLS team in the Eastern Conference.

Austin FC

Result: 4-3 win vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Now just over a fifth of the way through his team’s regular season schedule, Josh Wolff has clearly settled on a first-choice lineup. The manager opted against making any changes to his starting group between the 2-1 win vs. FC Dallas and Saturday’s 4-3 win vs. San Jose. It was the first time all season that Wolff didn’t make at least one change to his lineup out of a 4-3-3 shape.

Here’s how Austin lined up against the Quakes:

Wolff’s big change on Saturday wasn’t a shift in his starting 11 — it didn’t need to be, given this group probably includes Austin’s best collection of attacking talent. Instead, it was a tactical change, moving fullback Jon Gallagher and pseudo-winger Owen Wolff from the right side (where they started vs. Dallas) to the left side against San Jose and sending Hector Jimenez and Jader Obrian the other direction. In their possession-heavy approach, Wolff values and takes advantage of his team’s positional flexibility. 

And as long as Driussi continues to look like a true scoring and creation threat in the left halfspace, those rotating players will find looks in the final third. The dude has been red hot since returning from injury:

Defensively, Austin FC have issues that won’t be fixed until they make some serious moves in the transfer market or until the club undergoes some sort of major philosophical shift. Shipping three goals and regular chances to a team with just one win in seven is a major concern. But the attack is working right now, and that’s a big step.

Now let’s see things click against a team that isn’t either last or second-to-last in the West.

Colorado Rapids

Result: 2-2 draw at Inter Miami

Every now and then, the schedule gods work in your favor. 

Sure, they still had to deal with 45 minutes (and a goal) from Lionel Messi, but the Colorado Rapids had the fortune of clashing with a heavily rotated Inter Miami team on Saturday — Julian Gressel and Drake Callendar were the only first-choice starters in Tata Martino’s lineup. With all of the changes for Miami due to their Concacaf Champions Cup match against Monterrey coming up on Wednesday, this wasn’t a banner result that you might think a road point against Inter Miami in 2024 would be.

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