For the Galaxy, it's an opportunity to snap their six-game winless streak. Greg Vanney's group remains in the No. 4 spot on the Western Conference table, but needs to start stacking points again to solidify their Audi MLS Cup Playoff aspirations and avoid any late-season collapse.
For Austin FC, it's simply about manifesting some positive vibes on their home field during an expansion season that has seen their postseason hopes all but extinguished. Austin are currently in the West basement with just 19 points from 25 matches. That might give them the appearance of a vulnerable opponent, but Vanney said his team can't afford to have that approach.
"Austin, they're a dangerous opponent in many ways – they really don't have anything to lose," Vanney said. "They can throw whatever they want at us in any way they want to and take whatever risks they want to try to get a result or try to push the game. They're at home, they're in front of their fans in their new stadium, which I know they want to try and get some momentum and some belief in their own stadium – that's a place that's really difficult to play.
"So there's a lot of things where they don't have really anything that's holding them back other than the fact that they haven't had great results and maybe their confidence is [shaken]. But at the end of the day they have nothing to lose and they can go for it and we have a group that is trying to find the momentum that we need down the stretch to try and get ourselves in the playoff picture and to have the best chance down the stretch."
The sides have already met once this season, a match the Galaxy won 2-0 at Dignity Health Sports Park. One of LA's goalscorers in that match, midfielder Sebastian Lletget, feels they're on the precipice of returning to winning ways.
"I think we're just one game away, where we've just got to turn it around," Lletget said. "It can come down to one play, one play will change everything. This league is all about momentum and I think if we get this one then the next will follow."
"Am I worried about this team? No, I'm not worried, I'm definitely not losing sleep," Lletget said. "Are we being proactive and are we addressing issues proactively? Definitely. We're not being passive with the things that haven't been going well. A 3-0 loss, whether it's home or away, this one being away, we're not just going to go to bed at night and have a laugh the next day. ... Every team has their own stuff. But nine games left and I believe we can definitely turn it around, one game at a time."
On the Austin side, head coach Josh Wolff acknowledged that they've faced a humbling introduction to MLS. But he also sees signs of progress that could create some momentum in Texas' capital city.
"I think our identity, the way that we play and certainly the emotion that our guys consistently show, barring a few poor performances, has been pretty good," Wolff said. "That growth and our way of playing is I think fairly recognizable and certainly entertaining. Lately we've seen ourselves be able to score a good amount of goals, which we've done throughout the year, creating chances, but I think we've scored more.
"The issue now becomes the ability to prevent goals and to grind and to compete and the real piece is to problem solve when things do break down in the game. ... We've got nine games left and that's kind of what I've presented to these guys. Let's make this nine-game season as [best] as we can and create some goals in there and really focus on those things individually and collectively to give us the best chance to win games and obviously build momentum as this season goes on."