Austin FC and Charlotte FC are in different places as they meet Thursday night game in Charlotte.
Austin FC (8-4-4, 28 points) are 1-0-1 in two MLS games this month, with last weekend's rally from two goals down to draw with FC Dallas. Half of the team's victories have come on the road, and the team is on a roll.
"To see where our group is and having the memories of what last year looked like is night and day," Austin coach Josh Wolff said, reflecting on the team's inaugural season.
Charlotte FC (6-9-2, 20 points), meanwhile, are in flux. They played Saturday's game in Montreal, a 2-1 loss, with a dozen players unavailable. Ten of them were out because of health and safety protocol and two others with injuries.
"We have a few guys back," interim coach Christian Lattanzio said. "I don't want to go too much into the names, but we have a few guys back. A few others we are waiting (on)."
Among those thrust into key roles was goalkeeper George Marks, who was one of three Charlotte players to make an MLS debut last Saturday. He joined Quinn McNeill and Koa Santos with that distinction.
"Don't be afraid of something that I've hoped and prayed for so long," Marks said of his approach for whatever opportunities might come his way.
That's the mindset that Lattanzio said he needs from every player in the lineup.
"We know that we have very good young players here that have potential," he said, "but also are ready to contribute now."
For Charlotte, this is the middle game of three games across nine days, and that also could impact the lineup.
"It's important we rotate the squad well, but also to give a certain continuity to our game," Lattanzio said.
Austin tends to be more predictable. Among the trio of Sebastian Driussi, Diego Fagundez and Maxi Urruti, at least one of them has either scored or assisted in 14 of the team's 16 games.
"If the opponent starts to feel that they're getting pinned back, we start to take advantage of it," Wolff said. "The way we play has a cumulative effect by having the ball and pushing."
This is the beginning of a three-game road stretch for Austin, which is 4-3-1 away from home.
--Field Level Media