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Preview: Austin FC faces Chicharito without their ringleader at LA Galaxy this weekend

Alex Ring won't be playing against LA Galaxy after he was red carded last weekend. (Austin FC)

All good things must come to an end, including, unfortunately, Austin FC's moment as the MLS golden child.

After Captain Alex Ring was red carded in the 67th minute of play at Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, it became clear that Austin FC has more than beginner's luck but is still less than perfect in their inaugural season.

This week's game will test Austin FC's resiliency and skills more than ever as they face off against an ever-more-terrifying Chicharito and other forces of the universe at LA Galaxy.

What to expect

Austin FC is a starting man down without Captain Ring, and their confidence may be shaken as their stunning two-match win streak came to an abrupt halt. Meanwhile, LA Galaxy is on a high after beating rival LAFC 2-1 in El Trafico last weekend.

The club is headlined by Chicharito, who tallied a goal and an assist against LAFC and has scored six goals in four games so far. Greg Vanney, the new Galaxy manager who turned around Toronto FC, seems to be bringing new life to the team, and they now sit at 3rd in the Western Conference with a 3-1 record.

Austin FC is not in a good spot to play a team with such momentum, especially with their Captain out on red. Wolff scrambled to put together an uncharacteristically defensive lineup after Ring's sendoff, but the move backfired and Kansas City scored two goals to end the match last weekend.

Admittedly, however, the club only had 10 players on the field, and Wolff and team will have time to prepare for a new strategy as they take on the Galaxy.

With goalkeeper Brad Stuver tallying five impressive saves last week, Austin FC's backline still intact, and maybe a bit of luck, the club could come out of this match with a few minor scrapes instead of major wounds.

Lineup changes

I'm probably not the first to say that my lineup prediction for this week is almost a complete shot in the dark. With no "ringleader" serving as the glue in the middle, it's hard to say what strategies Wolff will use to fight off the Galaxy.

One thing is certain: Ring won't be there. If they keep the same formation as before, Sebastian Berhalter, who just turned 20, could be facing his first starting spot as he attempts to clean up the midfield.

Instead, I'm imagining a more defensive approach as Austin FC attempts to block Chicharito. With a 4-4-2 formation, the team's frontman would be cut to make way for four midfielders. Diego Fagundez had his worst match of the season last week, but the team will need all hands on deck in Ring's absence. Tomas Pochettino had a great match on both sides of the ball next week, so he should stay in the lineup.

Luckily, Austin FC has a couple of starter-level midfielders sitting on the bench. Wolff could move Daniel Pereira into the mix, and Rodney Redes could play a bit back from his normal position at right wing to fill out the midfield.

There may be changes in the middle, but I think both wingers from last week, Cecilio Dominguez and Jared Stroud, will stay intact. Meanwhile, there's no need to shake things up in the back, and Stuver is likely to stay as the last line of defense after an excellent match against Kansas City.


A big announcement from Austonia

Howdy, and happy holidays.

I have some big news for you.

Austonia is now part of 6AM City, a fast-growing network of hyper-local newsletters across the country.

I’m proud to be telling you this, because 6AM City’s mission is very much like Austonia’s — a daily morning update on events, things-to-do and news, with an underlying mission of community building in the cities they serve.

If you’re not already subscribed, 6AM City’s Austin newsletter is called ATXtoday. One of its city editors is Laura Figi, who you’ll remember for her previous great work on Austonia’s newsletter.

I’ve been reading ATXtoday every day since it launched last year.

Starting this week, you’ll receive ATXtoday every morning and I’m confident it will become part of your daily wake up routine. Be sure to add to your contact list (how to do that here).

Meantime let me thank you for your readership and support of Austonia, and convey my wishes for a great holiday season for you and those close to you.

Thank you,

Mark Dewey

Austonia CEO

Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.