Austin FC made some history as MLS Week 31’s nine-game slate concluded Wednesday, allowing the second-year club to lead the latest Team of the Week presented by Audi.
Moussa Djitte gets one of the striker spots after netting a hat trick as a second-half substitute, pacing a 3-0 win over Real Salt Lake. That result not only snapped a three-game losing streak for the Verde & Black, but punched their first-ever Audi MLS Cup Playoffs ticket. This dramatic year-two turnaround gave top coaching honors to Josh Wolff, while goalkeeper Brad Stuver is on the bench following a six-save shutout.
Another team with multiple nods is Atlanta United, placing midfielder Thiago Almada and left back Andrew Gutman in the starting lineup after a 1-0 win at Orlando City SC kept their postseason bid alive. Almada’s 72nd-minute game-winner marked the rising Argentine star’s second goal in as many games, while Gutman logged an assist for the second-straight game.
Djitte is joined up top by two veteran strikers after Gonzalo Higuain’s brace powered a 2-1, rain-delayed win for Inter Miami CF over Columbus Crew that ignited the Herons’ playoff hopes to another level. And CF Montréal striker Kei Kamara, who extended his lead as the league’s third all-time leading scorer, notched his own brace in a 3-2 win over Chicago Fire FC that locked in a home playoff game for his club.
Gutman is joined in defense by Sporting Kansas City center back Robert Voloder and Colorado Rapids right back Keegan Rosenberry – both of whom scored second-half goals. Voloder’s tally helped seal a 3-0 win over D.C. United, while Rosenberry’s own strike earned a 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes to keep faint postseason hopes alive for the 2021 Western Conference regular-season winners.
Though his team suffered a 3-1 loss at Houston Dynamo FC, New England Revolution goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic is a deserving part of the XI. The Serbian midseason signing stopped his fourth penalty kick of the season and posted a career-high eight saves, keeping the defending Supporters’ Shield winners from an even more lopsided defeat.
Aside from Almada, the midfield has an attack-heavy presence through Houston’s Fafa Picault, Vancouver’s Pedro Vite and LAFC’s Carlos Vela. Picault’s brace helped sink New England, Vite’s first MLS goal came in a 3-0 humbling of the LA Galaxy and Vela’s stunning equalizer salvaged a 1-1 draw for the Western Conference leaders at Minnesota United FC.
Team of the Week (3-4-3, left to right): Djordje Petrovic (NE) – Andrew Gutman (ATL), Robert Voloder (SKC), Keegan Rosenberry (COL) – Fafa Picault (HOU), Thiago Almada (ATL), Pedro Vite (VAN), Carlos Vela (LAFC) – Gonzalo Higuain (MIA), Moussa Djitte (ATX), Kei Kamara (MTL)
Coach: Josh Wolff (ATX)
Bench: Brad Stuver (ATX), Brent Kallman (MIN), Ismael Kone (MTL), Erik Thommy (SKC), Alejandro Pozuelo (MIA), Xherdan Shaqiri (CHI), Corey Baird (HOU)
Audi Goals Drive Progress
MLS Academies have been identified as one of the most important resources for building on-field talent in North America. Through the Audi Goals Drive Progress initiative, Audi has committed $1 million per season in an effort to advance academies league-wide, and to drive progress for the sport. For every goal scored in the regular season, Audi will contribute $500 into the Audi Goals Drive Progress fund to directly support each MLS Club Youth Academy.