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Well-rested but still injured, Austin FC seeks to beat No. 1 Seattle at home

Austin has had time to regroup and recover as they face the top team in the MLS on Thursday. (Austin FC)

No Djitte, no problem?

Austin FC won't be bringing in new scoring recruit Moussa Djitte in time for Thursday's match against the Seattle Sounders, but the well-rested crew is hoping they won't need him to topple the No. 1 MLS team.

Even with two weeks without MLS play and one week since a friendly match against Liga MX club Tigres, Austin is struggling to nurse their injured roster back to health. Striker Jon Gallagher, the first-ever scorer at Q2 Stadium, is still limited in training, as is young midfield standout Danny Pereira. Meanwhile, Austin's young subs proved they could hang with the best—but probably not win—as they lost 2-1 to the Tigres.

Refocused but not fully healed, the club will strive to one-up their last performance against the Sounders, which saw their first scoreless draw of the season.

For your guide to attending a home game, click here.

What to expect

While Austin is sitting on a record 1-2-1 at home, Seattle has just one loss to their name this season, which is the lowest in the conference.

As they head to Austin for the first time, the formidable club is coming off of their first stumble of the season: a 1-0 loss to Minnesota United. Still, Seattle's 13-match win streak was the best in club history, and leaders Raul Ruidiaz in the front and Nouhou in the back are propelling the team to back-to-back standout matches. Ruidiaz is tied with the famous Chicharrito (LAFC) for the most goals this season (10), while Yeimar Gomez Andrade leads the league in interceptions with 41.

Meanwhile, Austin has shown hot-and-cold performances in their new home fortress, including a breakout 4-1 win against the Portland Timbers and an injury-laden 2-0 loss to LAFC. Some MLS newbies have had to start earlier than expected as starters including Jon Gallagher, Nick Lima and Danny Hoesen continue to be out on injury.

The scoreboard may have shown a 0-0 result, Austin metaphorically won the David and Goliath battle vs. the Sounders when the club visited Seattle in May. Now, the club is armored with a new advantage: 20,000 cheering Verde fans in a crowded home stadium could help the club overcome their injury woes and push forward with a historic win.

Head Coach Josh Wolff said the club will need to use their home-court advantage to keep the momentum during the match.

"Playing at home, being aggressive, having the energy and pushing the tempo, it's extremely important," Wolff said. "We've got to get the goals."

Projected starting lineup

Some starters are still out, but Austin FC is likely to see a familiar lineup with some recovered players, including Captain Alex Ring, back in the mix.

Up top, Rodney Redes could be making his first MLS start in weeks after he tallied the lone goal versus the Tigres on July 13. Wolff said Redes is making a comeback after a "ding" set him back early in the season.

"There's been a real noticeable uptick for Rodney again," Wolff said. "Getting him back to feeling fit and sharp and confident was a big part of it."

Pereira and Gallagher are unlikely to play in the match. In their stead will most likely be winger Jared Stroud and midfielders Tomas Pochettino and Diego Fagundez. Fan-favorite Fagundez has been driving the tempo for much of the season and has been rewarded for his hustle with two goals, while Pochettino edges closer every match to finally getting one goal in himself.

Austin FC will face the Seattle Sounders at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday at Q2 Stadium.

Know before you go!

Austin FC's fans bring the party to Q2 Stadium with a full band, banners and Verde and Black masks. (Claire Partain/Austonia)


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