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MLS Western Conference: St. Louis’ coaching change, Gabriel Pec shines & more on each team

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

17 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. Diego Luna’s got justified anger. 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: Ohio teams make statements, Orlando City show signs of life & more on each team
We’re dissecting every MLS team in the Eastern Conference.

Austin FC

Result: 2-1 win at NYCFC

You don’t need to be a regular reader of this column (though you should be, obviously) to know that Austin FC has been a poor soccer team in the year 2024. A quick glance at the Western Conference standings where they sit in ninth place can tell you at least that much.

But every now and then, I spot a glimmer of hope when watching Austin play. That was the case on Saturday in their 2-1 win over New York City FC, where a few things jumped off the screen at me as Austin FC picked up a useful three points before their much-needed reinforcements are eligible to suit up on July 18th. 

My favorite moment, by far, for Austin on Saturday was a delightful piece of buildup play in the 16th minute. Building out of the back with short, controlled passes that carve through the opposing defensive shape has been a tactical theme for Austin since they joined the league in 2021. Still, the effectiveness of that buildup has varied wildly over the last few seasons.

It sure was effective on this play, with new left back Guilherme Biro spotting a pocket of space inside NYCFC’s pressing structure, moving into it, and then hitting a one-touch pass to Sebastian Driussi that placed the opposition fully on the back foot:


Toss Owen Wolff’s sharp assist for Austin’s go-ahead goal into the equation and you’ve got a nice evening at Q2 Stadium. Wolff, just 19, should be part of the furniture for Austin FC as they evolve. He’s not the finished product, but he’s also their best young piece by a mile.

There are still more questions than answers in Austin, but life is good after a productive win.

Colorado Rapids

Result: 4-1 win vs. St. Louis City

No Djordje Mihailovic? No problem for the Colorado Rapids.

With their No. 10 serving a card accumulation suspension during the clash with St. Louis this weekend, the Rapids had a chance to test out a new midfield alignment ahead of what will be a more prolonged period without Mihailovic. Along with Walker Zimmerman and Miles Robinson, Mihailovic will serve as one of the three overage players for the United States at the upcoming Paris Olympics. Colorado, then, will have to get used to playing without Mihailovic’s smooth work in tight spots and his varied goal threat in the final third.

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