Austin’s First W, Galaxy Back in a Big Way and Nashville Showing the Right Signs
Soccer

Austin’s First W, Galaxy Back in a Big Way and Nashville Showing the Right Signs

Expansion side Austin FC got their first win on Saturday, away from home, against a 2020 playoff team. We might have expected the new side to be passive, play behind the ball, and counter when appropriate – their second half performance was anything but that.

Austin trailed at the break to an Andre Shinyashiki goal, but head coach Josh Wolff must have said all the right words in the dressing room at half-time. They came out for the second half on fire.

Austin FC v Colorado Rapids - 1st half v 2nd half

Their first half performance left much to be desired, with just three shots of poor overall quality and a lack of intensity in the final third of the pitch. After half-time, they stepped on the gas and began a higher press up the pitch, while regularly getting shots off on the Rapids’ goal, which led to three goals in a devastating spell of 11 minutes and 27 seconds.

Colorado Rapids v Austin FC xG race chart MLS

Austin will hope to bring the same aggression to Minnesota when they visit the Loons on Saturday, and that should be doable. Minnesota’s 4.21 xG against is third highest in the league through two matches, and that’s resulted in six goals.

Revival out West

The LA Galaxy are off to a flying start in the 2021 MLS season. It has only been two games, but they top the league as the only team with six points in the bag. They also have the star performer so far in Chicharito.

The Mexican is leading the league with five goals following his hat trick this weekend. His 2.8 expected goals – another league best, is higher than 16 teams have managed in total. This is no anomaly.

All three of his goals this weekend against New York Red Bulls came inside the box. But this is nothing new, as since moving to the Premier League in 2010, Chicharito has been one of the best box strikers in the world.

Chicharito's great goal record

Since moving to Manchester United in the summer of 2010, the striker has scored 96 league goals, with only four of these coming from outside the box. His record of 53 goals inside the box during his Premier League career is second only to Tim Cahill (56) for scoring goals exclusively inside the area, while all seven of his MLS goals so far have come within the box.

Chicarito goal for LA Galaxy v NYRB

The Galaxy’s second goal this weekend ended a passing sequence of 14 passes, the longest move leading to a goal in MLS 2021. Who else would you want to be on the end of such a move than Chicharito?  

Nashville’s Sophomore Showcase?

Nashville SC’s second MLS season has been anything but boring in the opening two weeks, with both matches resulting in them come from two goals behind to secure draw. During their inaugural MLS campaign in 2020, Nashville only came from behind to win points twice overall, but should they be disappointed with only having two points on the board so far?

The Eastern Conference side lead the league in expected goals (6.41), big chances (nine), total shots (49) and shots on target (21) but have just two points and four goals to show for their efforts. Last season, it took them six games to surpass this xG total.

Nashville SC's xG MLS 2021

Now, they need to fix their first-half defensive record. All four goals scored against NSC have come in the first half. If they can clean that up, stop giving teams head starts and continue creating chances at the opposite end of the pitch, we’ll see their first win of the season sooner rather than later.

Their next chance comes against fellow 2020 expansion side Inter Miami, who have had less of the ball (40.8% possession) than any other MLS side though two matches. Nashville rank third in possession (57%) and didn’t concede a goal to Miami in three matches last season (2W, 1D). However, that 4-0 aggregate in Nashville’s favor came with a 4.27-4.0 xG advantage for Miami, so it wasn’t as one-sided as the scores made it look.