With so many competitions this year, I’m honestly having a hard time remembering them all. So at the end of our last staff “meeting” I threw out some rapid fire questions to our resident expert, Travis McTravelface, about all things CONCACAF Champions League.
Vinho: How did Austin FC earn a spot in this competition?
Travis: Normally, a team gets into CONCACAF Champions League from MLS by winning MLS Cup, winning the Western or Eastern Conference, or winning the US Open Cup.
Vinho: Did we win all that? I think I’d remember if we won all that.
Travis: We did not win all that. However, since LAFC both won the West and MLS Cup, they took the team with the next best record in MLS.
Vinho: Austin FC!
Travis: Well, CF Montreal. However, since Montreal is in Canada (well Quebec is in Canada about as much as Texas is in the US), Austin qualified for the tournament as the next best US-based MLS team.
Vinho: Well, this is pretty straight forward. But wait, should Seattle have qualified as the defending champions?
Travis: Yeah. Do we care? No. Will we be pissed if the same happens to Austin in the future? Yes. Does CONCACAF care? No.
Vinho: What’s the most CONCACAFiest moment in this competition’s history?
Travis: This tackle (clip starts at 1:50) in Philly’s win against Saprissa in 2021 was so harsh, it started a brawl, but somehow wasn’t a red card. While this horrendous officiating did not prevent Philly from advancing in the competition, it gives you a flavor of what to expect in this tournament.
Vinho: Like Austin FC, I’m new to this competition. That means I don’t have anything to be upset about. I don’t like not having resentment when watching sports, so tell me what I should be upset about? Who are the villains, the oh what’s the word, Jared Strouds of this competition?
Travis: The refs. The pitch. If you think MLS has bad referees or bad pitches, you haven’t seen anything yet. Austin FC will be playing on a tropical turf pitch with officials who are yet to be announced. It has room for maximum chaos.
Additionally, there will be new villains. I can’t name a single player on Violette, but my gut is that we will know a bunch of them soon enough, especially if Austin can’t establish an early lead.
Vinho: How confident are you that Rodney Redes is going to be the MVP of this tournament and what will you say when he lifts that Golden Chupacabra (I’m pretty sure that’s what the trophy is called)?
Travis: This tournament has Rodney starring written all over it. Rodney will play so well that it will be difficult for Austin to keep him in the summer transfer window as clubs from around the world will be clamoring to sign the latest CONCACAF star.
Vinho: Who are you hoping gets some solid minutes that we might not see otherwise?
Travis: I was thrilled to see Micah Burton included in the team roster. I would love to see him get his Austin FC debut in the first round either in the DR or at home. Also, a debut for Micah likely means that Austin is doing well in those matches as I doubt he would be starting at this point.
Vinho: Is this competition going to drain all our energy leading to an uptick in injuries and dropped points in the regular season, or is it going to allow some of our bench guys to get sharp?
Travis: Yes, to everything. This week, we may have the most brutal travel schedule in MLS history with a Tuesday evening match in the tropical hills of Santiago in the Dominican Republic and then a Saturday night away match in the high mountain valley of Utah. We will have more guys get hurt and regular season performance will suffer, if we continue to advance.
At the same time, I would gladly trade a deep CCL run for a lower seed in the MLS playoffs, especially with 9 of the 14 teams in the West making the playoffs this year. It may be an unpopular opinion, but CCL is more important than MLS to me at this point.
Vinho: It’s fairly common in European leagues for a team to consider shifting focus from the regular season to one of the other competitions they’re in. Considering Austin FC is going to win the MLS Cup
with a perfect record with only one loss and cruise through all 12 other tournaments we’re in, do you feel sorry for teams who have to make that decision?
Travis: As long as Austin doesn’t play a full CITY, the Verde and Black should be fine. Hopefully, we have enough depth to be able to win on the road with a B side, but we’ll find out soon enough.
Vinho: What flavor of ice cream is closest to how you’ll feel after Wolff plays all our regular starters for 70 minutes in both matches against Violette?
Travis: I would say unicorn, so I doubt that’s going to happen. Who actually orders unicorn ice cream?
Vinho: I hate to open the door to anything less than total victory, but I’m a Democrat so I’m used to it. How far do you honestly think Austin FC can go in this tournament?
Travis: Well, if Hillary’s Presidential campaign is managing Austin FC’s team, they’ll barely get through the first round against Violette before getting destroyed by León. However, I think Josh Wolff is a better coach than Robby Mook is a campaign manager, and Austin has a realistic shot at getting past the first two rounds. The semifinals against Pachuca or Tigres seems like a realistic ceiling, but anything can happen in this crazy tournament.
Vinho: What are some organizations in Haiti we should support?
Travis: The Red Cross committed fraud and embezzled funds in Haiti. Don’t give money to them. While we cannot recommend visiting Haiti right now due to the violence, these local non-profits seem like a great place to start.
Note: Our staff “meetings” run late and it was the middle of the night before I got around to typing up these notes. Maybe it’s because we have our “meetings” outside under oak trees that are cracked in about a dozen places or maybe it was the
ayahuasca Sleepytime Tea but I was feeling pretty on edge.
I nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard the chickens crunching the leaves and clawing at the ground. But our chickens are free range chickens so I relaxed and got back to work. All was fine until I heard the chickens climbing trees, jumping from branch to branch, and slashing open the guts of various neighborhood pets.
A shadow jumped from the tree but stayed just out of the reach of the firelight. I could barely make out large eyes, a curved back, and a face reminiscent of Natasha Henstridge. So I did what any of us would do when faced with a mythical creature known to drink blood. I asked it to predict the score of the matches against Violette. It growled, rippled the spikes on its back, and regurgitated a pile of viscera roughly in the shape of a former Corgi. By the time I deciphered the goo, the creature had disappeared.
Austin FC 3
Violette AC 1
Austin FC 4
Violette AC 0
I heard the words “Redes brace” echoing through the night. “Which match?” I called, but the creature was gone.