Los Angeles FC vs. Austin FC – MLS, April 17, 2021
Expansion team Austin FC begins their Major League Soccer journey on Saturday, April 17, with a huge test against Los Angeles FC at Banc of California Stadium.
The newcomers could barely have dreamed of a tougher opponent to begin with. After all, LAFC is the bookmakers’ favorite to go all the way and win the 2021 MLS Cup.
Can Austin upset the MLS odds on the opening day of the new campaign? In this betting preview, I look at both teams before sharing my LAFC vs. Austin FC prediction and pick.
LAFC vs. Austin FC Odds
In the grand scheme of things, the top-rated online sportsbooks have probably priced this matchup fairly. It is difficult to predict exactly what will go down when the teams face off on Saturday, but there is no denying that LAFC should be the favorite.
The giant odds will undoubtedly tempt risky bettors for the away win and the draw here. However, betting against LAFC could prove to be a dangerous decision.
LAFC Team Analysis
It is no secret that Bob Bradley’s men struggled for consistency last season, with just nine wins coming from their 22 regular-season games.
Sure, the Black & Gold finished the 2020 campaign as the top scorers in Major League Soccer, but having conceded an inexcusable 39 goals, LAFC ended up with one of the Western Conference’s poorest defensive records.
The 2019 Supporters’ Shield champions dropped from 2.12 points per game to just 1.45 last year, finishing seventh in the West. It goes without saying that Bradley will expect far more from the 2021 Los Angeles FC roster.
Diego Rossi clinched the 2020 Golden Boot in Vela’s absence, but the return of the Mexican magician is massive for LAFC.
The Black & Gold played two pre-season friendlies against the Revs earlier in the month, with a 2-2 draw preceding a 3-3 thriller. If those results are anything to go by, Bradley’s men look set to carry their unpredictability into 2021.
Can Austin Upset the Odds?
Austin’s preparations for their debut MLS season have dished up four friendly wins over USL Championship opponents. The newcomers then suffered a 3-2 loss to Houston Dynamo before a 3-3 draw against FC Dallas ended in a penalty shootout defeat.
Over the past few years, numerous expansion teams have shown that it is possible to enter the league and instantly become a competitive force. Josh Wolff will be hoping that his players can follow suit.
The inaugural Austin FC roster looks strong on paper, with plenty of proven MLS stars in the ranks. Better still, the club has made several big-money overseas acquisitions, with guys like Rodney Redes, Cecilio Dominguez, and Tomas Pochettino jumping on board.
With former NYCFC captain, Alexander Ring set to anchor the midfield, Austin will be quietly confident of ruffling s few feathers in the Western Conference this year.
Having said that, Wolff’s men face a hugely testing opening match. They could find it difficult to get up to speed against LAFC.
LAFC vs. Austin FC Prediction and Pick
LAFC to Win1.46
Don’t get me wrong, I really like the look of Austin FC. I can see the expansion club enjoying a successful maiden season in Major League Soccer, although avoiding defeat on Saturday is a big ask.
I’m backing LAFC to kick off the new campaign with a win. With Vela rejoining Rossi in attack, the Black & Gold will be difficult to stop in 2021.