The MLS playoffs reach have reached the business end as Los Angeles FC take on the impressive Austin FC in the Western Conference finals.
The two teams are competing for a chance to play against the winner of the Eastern Conference finals between New York City FC and Philadelphia Union to see who will lift the MLS Cup in 2022.
We'll break down the big game and both teams in it, then provide you with our best free MLS picks to see if we can earn you some extra cash for the weekend.
|MLS Western Conference Finals
|Los Angeles FC
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MLS: Los Angeles FC vs Austin FC information
- Sunday, 30 October 2022
- 15:00 ET kick-off
- Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles, California
- Live on FOX Deportes
LA FC season so far
The strongest team in the entire MLS without a doubt, Los Angeles FC lived up to the hype by claiming top spot in the western conference with a brilliant season, courtesy of the most winningest record in the conference.
They won six of their opening eight games of the season, losing just one - to the LA Galaxy. Through July and August they managed a seven-game winning streak, before four losses in their next five games put a real dent in their ambitions.
Thankfully for them though, wins over Houston Dynamo and Portland Timbers in the final three games were enough to seal them top spot and a bye in the playoffs to progress to the semi-finals, where they beat LA Galaxy 3-2 in a crazy game with a stoppage time winner.
Their top scorer this season has been Cristian Arango with 17 goals in 35 appearances, closely followed by Carlos Vela's 12 goals in 32 goals.
They added world superstar Gareth Bale to their ranks mid-season too, although he's managed just two goals in 12 games so far in Hollywood. With the World Cup just weeks away though, he will be looking to get into top form before going away with Wales.
Austin FC season so far
It was a sloppy start to the season for Austin FC, who won their opening two games of the season by putting five past Cincinnati and Inter Miami FC, before going winless in their next three games.
They then won their next three MLS, and picked up a win over Los Angeles FC back in May with a 2-1 win on the road. That was followed up by a draw with Orlando and a 4-1 defeat to LA Galaxy, but then a run of four wins in a row had them firmly in the playoff picture.
They only won four more games after that though in their next 13 to slip down to fourth place in the Western Conference, with a record of 16-10-8 for the season. They made it to the playoffs and needed a penalty shootout to get past Real Salt Lake, coming from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 and win the shootout 3-1. Austin then turned over FC Dallas a week later in the semi-finals, claiming a 2-1 win in regular time.
Sebastian Driussi has been by far and away the key man so far, with 25 goals in 37 appearances to be the top goalscorer, which is followed by Maximiliano Urruti who has nine goals in 36 games.
MLS Picks: LA FC to get the win
There's a very real possibility that LA FC are already the strongest and deepest squad in the entire Americas, so it's time for them to prove it.
Los Angeles FC finished the regular season in the no.1 spot in the Western Conference with a 21-4-9 which equals 67 points, a total only matched by Philadelphia Union. That’s still more points than any other team in the MLS, which won LAFC the 2022 Supporters’ Shield.
The team coached by Steve Cherundolo was, by far, the most dominant side in the conference, finishing the regular portion of the 2022 MLS season with 11 points more than the second-placed team (Austin FC).
The main reason behind LAFC’s impressive stats in 2022 is that their offense has been superb this year. With 69 goals scored in 35 games, they have the most productive attack in the conference, which is no surprise considering that they have some real legends on the roster.
Austin won their two regular season games, but this is a different beast and expect LA to get their revenge here.
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MLS Picks: Both teams to score
The fact that Austin did beat them twice this season, means they're more than capable of finding the net once again.
The first meeting between the two was a 2-1 win for Austin and the second was a 4-1 win, but they only managed one more win in the regular season before the playoffs where they've not been as impressive as many expected.
Plenty has changed since then, but the game is likely to be lively and exciting throughout. It might take a while to get there, but expect both teams to find the back of the net in regular time, and for LA FC's greater individual quality and strength in depth to pay dividends with a big win.
Don't be shocked to see Austin take the lead and LA FC to come from behind, but both teams are far stronger in attack than defense so there should be goals.
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