FT. – Austin FC 1-0 Toronto FC.
90 +1′ – GOAL AUSTIN. Gyasi Zardes heads the ball home after a scramble in the box.
88′ – Adam Lundqvist’s left footed rocket did not miss the net by much. It remains scoreless.
73′ – Emiliano Rigoni’s curling free kick is just wide of Sean Johnson’s net.
66′ – Federico Bernardeschi is substituted for Jordan Faria.
63′ – Mabika with a big block on a shot from Urruti.
59′ – Sean Johnson is called to action and makes a strong save on a shot from Daniel Pereira.
46′ – The second half begins. Bob Bradley makes two substitutions: Kosi Thompson and Hugo Mbongue enter the match for Brandon Servania and Themi Antonoglou.
HT – Austin FC 0-0 Toronto FC
37′ – Austin’s Ethan Finlay is issued a yellow card for a rough challenge on Petretta.
21′ – Another warning sign for the visitors. A cross from the hosts hits the top of the crossbar as Sean Johnson stretches out in desperation.
15′ – Urruti’s shot is inches away from opening the scoring. His attempt hits the post and bounces away.
8′ – A good intervention from Kobe Franklin to interrupt Jon Gallagher’s threatening run.
1′ – And we are underway in Austin! It looks like a 3-4-3 from Bob Bradley’s side with Petretta, Hedges and Mabika forming the backline. Richie Laryea is playing higher up on the right side.
8:00 pm ET – Drop your guesses in our prediction league!
7:45 pm ET – Texas is a state where Toronto FC has not seen much success over the years. Tonight, they face (somewhat) new MLS side Austin FC for the first time in MLS action. Will the Reds finally get on the scoresheet in MLS action this month? Your guess is as good as mine.
No Lorenzo Insigne in TFC’s matchday squad, Themi Antonoglou gets the start at left wing. Matt Hedges and Mark-Anthony Kaye return to the starting lineup. Richie Laryea dons the armband for his hometown club.
Long-time TFC fans will recognise Maxi Urruti who starts up top for Austin. Former NYCFC captain and MLS Cup champion Alex Ring is the midfield general for Los Verdes. Watch out for MLS veteran winger Ethan Finlay, he contributed to both of Austin’s goals in their midweek victory against the Seattle Sounders at Lumen Field.
Match Preview, by Adam Palermo
After a scoreless draw at home against the lowly New York Red Bulls on Wednesday, Toronto FC will hit the road to face Austin FC, in the first-ever competitive meeting between the two sides, in hopes of finding a result that can change the course of a desperately poor start to the season.
Making do with an injury ravaged squad in the last matchup, TFC head coach Bob Bradley will hope to have a couple of first-team players back and available for selection after experiencing two more setbacks midweek. Mark-Anthony Kaye was deemed unfit to start Wednesday’s match against RBNY, and midfielder Deandre Kerr was pulled from the contest in the first half.
TFC insider Michael Singh reports that Kaye and veteran defender Matt Hedges are in the running to return to the pitch in the Lone Star State, while forward Jordan Perruzza has also been deemed questionable to participate.
Hedges could prove to be an important reinstatement with Bradley left with only one fit natural centre-back in the form of Aimé Mabika. Though he and Richie Laryea performed well in the heart of defence last time out, the return of Hedges would allow for greater use of Laryea’s prowess as a goal threat down the right flank.
With the halfway point of the MLS regular season just over two weeks away — yes, really — TFC will need to put points on the board no matter the injury situation. Looking past injuries, the team has struggled to find consistent goalscoring, and the form of Italian wingers Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi has not matched expectations with the two stars in their first full MLS season.
“As a team I think we create a fair number of advantages, I said that after many games so far this year,” Bradley said following the 0-0 result against the Red Bulls.
“How sharp are we when we get those advantages, I think that has to improve. I think in some moments that includes them (Insigne and Bernardeschi).”
Bradley might need to rethink his team’s approach to avoid another lost season in Toronto. For a side that averages the ninth-highest possession in the league (50.6 percent), only two clubs average fewer shots taken per game (10). Something must change in order to make the Reds a more threatening attacking unit, especially given the profiles Bradley has at his disposal.
The good news for Toronto fans? New York City FC are only three points away in ninth place. It wouldn’t take much to vault back into playoff contention, but the product on the pitch mixed with the lack of scoring touch is making a frustrated fanbase lose faith that their team can have a sudden change in form.
Playing host to TFC on Saturday will be Austin, another side that has so far failed to meet expectations in 2023.
After a stellar sophomore season in which they finished second in the West, the Verde and Black are currently one point out of the playoff picture and endured an eight-match winless run before beating the Seattle Sounders away in their most recent outing.
2022 MLS All-Star Sebastián Driussi will miss Saturday’s game as he deals with a groin injury, while young midfielder Owen Wolff is with the United States under-20 team at the World Cup in Argentina. Other than those two absences, Austin are very healthy when compared to their Toronto counterpart.
Like TFC though, Austin have struggled to find the back of the net. The club has scored a dozen times in as many league matches, with wing-back Jon Gallagher leading the team in scoring with four goals.
Opponent: Austin FC
Kickoff time: 8:30 pm ET
Watch: MLS Season Pass
Stadium: Q2 Stadium, Austin, Tex.