Possible LAFC, Austin FC lineups in MLS Cup Western Conference final
Los Angeles FC and Austin FC, who are both targeting a maiden MLS Cup final appearance, will contest the Western Conference title on Sunday.
The top two seeds in the West meet in the conference title decider on Sunday, as Los Angeles FC and Austin FC both bid to reach the MLS Cup final for the first time.
For Supporters’ Shield winners LAFC, who are the home side because of their higher regular-season finish, the clash at Banc of California Stadium is the team’s second appearance in a conference final. In 2019, the Black and Gold faced off against Seattle Sounders for the Western Conference crown, but were beaten 3-1 by a side that went on to win that year’s MLS championship.
Since joining MLS in 2018, the franchise’s two other postseason campaigns have both ended in the first round. Indeed, they are yet to beat anyone in the playoffs other than city rivals Los Angeles Galaxy. Having reached the conference final at the Galaxy’s expense three years ago, LAFC repeated the feat in the 2022 Western Conference semi-finals 10 days ago, Christian Arango’s stoppage-time strike earning Steve Cherundolo’s men a 3-2 victory.
Meanwhile, Austin beat Dallas FC 2-1 on Sunday to reach the conference final in only their second season in MLS. Moussa Djitté and Sebastián Driussi got the goals for the Verde and Black, who are bidding to become only the second expansion team to lift the MLS championship within two seasons of their league debut. Coached by Joshua Wolff, Austin defeated LAFC in both of the teams’ regular-season clashes this term - including a 4-1 thumping in Texas at the end of August.
The winner of LAFC vs Austin will take on Philadelphia Union or New York City FC in the MLS Cup final on 5 November.
Western Conference final: team news
LAFC have reported no injuries and have no-one missing through suspension. Gareth Bale missed the win over the Galaxy with a left leg injury, but appears unlikely to return to the lineup against Austin. Signed as a free agent in June, the former Real Madrid forward last started for LAFC a month and a half ago, and has played just five minutes of club football since the international break in late September.
Head coach Steve Cherundolo may well name an unchanged team on Sunday, although veteran centre-back Giorgio Chiellini could come back into the defence.
Possible LAFC lineup:
Crépeau, Hollingshead, Murillo, Segura, Palacios, Cifuentes, Sánchez, Acosta, Vela, Arango, Bouanga.
Austin’s Freddy Kleeman and Zan Kolmanic are both listed as unavailable due to knee injuries, but the visitors have no suspended players.
Despite scoring against Dallas, striker Djitté could make way for Maximiliano Urruti, who has been a much more regular starter this season. The Argentine led the line for Austin in both of their regular-season victories over LAFC, starring in August’s big win with a two-goal display. Meanwhile, midfielder Daniel Pereira came into the side in place of Jhojan Valencia last weekend, and could keep his place after an effective performance in the engine room alongside Alexander Ring.
Possible Austin FC lineup:
Stuver, Lima, Cascante, Gabrielsen, Gallagher, Ring, Pereira, Finlay, Driussi, Fagúndez, Urruti.
LAFC vs Austin: key match info
The 2022 MLS Cup Western Conference final between LAFC and Austin FC kicks off at Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles, at 3pm PT. Elsewhere in the US, that’s 6pm ET and 5pm CT. TV viewers in the States will be able to watch the game on ABC and ESPN 3. You also have the option of streaming the clash live online on fuboTV, which offers a free trial.
AS USA will have live-text coverage of LAFC vs Austin. My colleague Paul Reidy will be building up to the match from about an hour and a half ahead of kick-off in LA, before talking you through the action with minute-by-minute commentary.