(Photo credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)
Austin FC will be in desperation mode in their quest for a repeat trip to the MLS playoffs when they host equally desperate D.C. United on Wednesday in a late-season match between teams trying to move above the playoff line.
Austin (9-14-8, 35 points) head into the match in 12th place in the West, six points behind ninth-place FC Dallas. Even with wins in their final three matches, Austin FC would need the three teams ahead of them in the standings to falter in order to make the postseason.
The Verde head home after a 1-0 road loss to the conference cellar-dwellers, the Colorado Rapids, on Saturday. Austin is mired in a 10-match winless streak across MLS and Leagues Cup play and has not won since beating Sporting Kansas City 2-1 on July 15.
Over their past three matches, Austin FC managed a total of two points. In addition to the result against the Rapids, Austin drew with the New York Red Bulls, currently the 12th-place team in the East, and the Los Angeles Galaxy, the second-worst squad in the West.
"We've lost momentum," Austin FC coach Josh Wolff said. "That's what this game is, man. It's euphoric and heart-wrenching at the same time. I'm sure there's some moments last year where we snatched victory in some difficult moments."
Austin played the Colorado match without Sebastian Driussi, its captain and leading scorer, who was out with a hamstring injury. Driussi's availability for the Wednesday contest had yet to be determined, but the midfield is highly unlikely to play.
D.C. United (9-13-10, 37 points) begin the week in 10th place in the East, tied with CF Montreal in points but below the playoff line due to the Canadian side's advantage in wins. D.C. has two matches remaining in the regular season.
After the match in Austin on Wednesday, D.C. returns home to finish its season on Saturday against New York City FC.
The Black and Red remain on the road after a 2-2 draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday. Christian Benteke scored in the 11th minute, and Mateusz Klich found the net for an equalizer in the 62nd.
"Good performance, good point in the end, but that's only a good point if we win on Wednesday," D.C. United coach Wayne Rooney said after the Saturday match.
D.C. hasn't advanced to the postseason since 2019. The Black and Red are 1-1-4 over their past six matches, with their most recent win a 4-0 home decision against the Chicago Fire on Sept. 2.
--Field Level Media