Real Salt Lake advanced to the MLS Playoffs with a dramatic victory over the Portland Timbers on Decision Day. Next up, RSL will travel into the heart of the Lonestar State to take on Austin FC in the 2022 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Quarterfinal Match.
RSL has only faced Austin FC four times in the Club’s history. The series is tied with both clubs having won against each other twice. This year, RSL won the first meeting at home 2-1 thanks to goals from Maikel Chang and Andrew Brody while Austin won the second meeting in Texas 3-0.
The MLS Playoffs always bring multitudes of storylines to the forefront, but here are some of the top narratives to follow during RSL’s next playoff match:
Here’s to More Brody Magic
RSL defender Andrew Brody created one of the moments of the season in the Claret-and-Cobalt’s first match against Austin FC back in May. Los Verdes took an early 1-0 lead at America First Field but after a 47’ Daniel Pereira red card, the tide quickly shifted into RSL’s favor. Maikel Chang would then score eight minutes later and then in the 88’ Brody wrapped his foot around an Anderson Julio cross and belted it into the top right corner of the net. America First Field erupted and RSL earned a crucial 3 points.
Brody is in the midst of a breakout year, starting 33 out of a possible 34 matches for RSL and contributing six assists and two goals. The Orlando, Florida native made his first team debut last season and would go on to play all three of RSL’s playoff matches. Brody was a mainstay with Real Monarchs before earning a place with the Claret-and-Cobalt and now playing every game of this season.
Watch Out For Driussi
Austin FC forward Sebastian Driussi cemented his name as one of Major League Soccer’s best players this season with an MVP caliber year scoring 22 goals and contributing seven assists. The Argentine helped propel Austin FC to finishing second in the Western Conference and attributing to the third best attack in the league with 65 team goals scored.
Driussi and his teammates will be thrilled to host their Club’s first ever MLS Cup Playoff game at Q2 Stadium and the forward will be especially keen to score the Club’s first ever MLS Cup Playoff goal. A stern test awaits for the Real Salt Lake backline.
Postseason Experience Could Prove Pivotal
Austin FC won’t just be hosting their first ever MLS Cup Playoff game at Q2 Stadium, it will be the Club’s first ever MLS Cup Playoff game in general. Los Verdes finished their inaugural season in 2021 on 31 points with a -21 goal, impressively building on that this season with 55 points and a +16 goal differential going into Decision Day. While Austin’s had an impressive season, their lack of postseason experience could make a difference in their matchup with RSL. The Claret-and-Cobalt have made the playoffs in 12 of their 17 seasons of existence and faced a similar situation of sneaking into the playoffs on Decision Day last season where the Club then made a run to the MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Finals.
Austin FC will have to rely on MLS veterans such as Diego Fegundez, Alexander Ring, Ethan Finlay for guidance as Los Verdes navigates their first postseason campaign.