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Four questions with Phil West of Verde All Day



Photo by Jack Verdeur
It’s time to focus on MLS, folks.
With the Philadelphia Union’s elimination from the Concacaf Champions Cup against Pachuca, they now have only in-league play ahead of them for the time being. First up in that quest — Austin FC. We reached out to independent journalist Phil West for his analysis of Austin ahead of Saturday’s match.
Philadelphia Soccer Now: Austin seems to have started off the season on the wrong foot, it’s got two points through three games. What’s gone wrong?
Phil West: For starters, there’s no Sebastian Driussi on the field. He’s Austin’s best player, and his absence is especially felt on offense — currently, Verde’s near the bottom of the league in progressive passes, progressive carries, and xG generated. Related to that: Josh Wolff is essentially flying a place that Rodolfo Borrell is building, as Distracted Soccer Dad-era Claudio Reyna missed on a number of last year’s signings (and with few exceptions, didn’t nail a lot of the key DP and U22 signings he made). Still, some fans are good with getting draws against Seattle and St. Louis; it’s really the opening day misfire against Minnesota that’s souring the 2024 start. That said, it might take this team a while to find its first win, and things might be really grumpy around here in a few weeks.

PSN: Interestingly enough, this is Philadelphia and Austin’s first time meeting in a competitive match. For the Philadelphia fans who don’t know much about Austin, what can you tell them about the club?

PW: Wolff likes to play a possession-style soccer, working the ball out of the back, and relying on dual 8s, one of whom is usually Driussi, who’s really a second striker who likes to show up in space to do his magic. Last week against St. Louis, though, they were way more direct offensively, and by some measures, only had 40 percent possession at home against a team that usually settles for 40 percent possession itself. Also, Brad Stuver, who’s one of the league’s best shot-stoppers, could have an assist with his arm by the end of the year. He’s very unappreciated around the league in my opinion.
PSN: Like the Union, Austin is searching for its first win. What’s it going to take for them to earn that on Saturday?
PW: They have to learn to close out games still. When things were very good, in 2022, they were adept at pulling off late comebacks or just plain dominating teams. Since a weird juncture toward the end of the ’22 regular season, they’ve been far less adept.
PSN: Will Austin have any notable absences? What are your score and lineup predictions?
PW: Driussi’s the big question mark on this one, and thinking that he’ll get 20-30 minutes at best, we’re likely talking about a 3-1 scoreline in the Union’s favor under normal circumstances. But I’d say a Union team with a severe CCC hangover constitutes something other than normal circumstances. Verde could pull out another tough home draw, which I think, again, given where the team’s at and how rough this early part of the season is going to be, most fans will take.

Joe is a junior at Penn State studying journalism and sports studies, among other things. He's covered the Union since 2017 and has written for Brotherly Game / Philadelphia Soccer Now since 2019. He seeks to answer life's greatest questions, such as, "How did I get here?" and "Where is that large automobile?" You can find Joe on Twitter (iamjoelister) or via email (

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