The Verde Report: MVP or Not, Sebastián Driussi Is Something Better for Austin FC
Wolff: “When it’s crunch time, the guy delivers”
him (lowercase), pronoun. Used as the object of a verb or preposition to refer to a male person. – Oxford English Dictionary
Him (uppercase), proper noun. The motherfucker with the biggest set of nuts in town that is fucking cracked at everything he does. – Urban Dictionary
Sebastián Driussi is Him.
Of course, if you're an Austin FC fan, you already knew that. Driussi has been Him since debuting for the Verde and Black in August of 2021, in which time he has scored 29 goals, assisted 12 more, and started 49 out of a possible 53 matches for El Tree. Only Nashville's Hany Mukhtar, the league's other MVP front-runner, can rival that résumé over the same period.
However, it's one thing to be Him during the regular season. On Sunday, during Austin FC's MLS Cup Playoffs debut against Real Salt Lake in Q2 Stadium, Driussi proved that he is Him no matter the time, no matter the place, no matter the stage, and no matter the moment. The Argentine scored both of El Tree's goals during regulation time – one with his head in the 31st minute and one from the penalty spot so late into stoppage time that a miss would have surely ended the club's season. But Driussi is Him, and when you are Him, you don't miss.
When you are Him, and when the match eventually goes to a penalty shoot-out, you step up to bury your club's first attempt. Note that for many players, the challenge of beating the goalkeeper from the penalty spot twice in the same match is a tricky one. But as we've already established, when you are Him, you do not miss.
Druissi was simply everywhere Sunday afternoon, producing nearly a third of Austin FC's eye-popping 38 shots and five of the club's 11 on target. In addition to the brace he did score, Driussi had two goals stricken off in extra time – once for hand ball and once for an offside play – and hit the post with a headed shot that seemed destined to be the game winner.
"Sebastián Driussi, I don't know what else to say," head coach Josh Wolff said postgame. "I think he scored seven goals today, some of them got called back. That's why he's the MVP. That's why he's been the MVP all year … When it's crunch time, the guy delivers."
Sports fans tend to obsess irrationally over those three letters, and in the end, Driussi may not win MVP. Mukhtar is the odds-on favorite, and voting closed with the end of the regular season. So what? When asked if he is the real MVP, Driussi dismissed the notion. "I'm not the one who decides," he said in Spanish. "I try to stay focused on my team and I'll continue to do things right."
That's not just an MVP answer; it's a Him answer. The regular season is ancient history at this point. Dwell on it and wind up like New York Yankee slugger Aaron Judge, who hit a record-breaking 62 home runs in the regular season but has been slumping since the playoffs began. That's why if you ask any general manager in any sport whether they'd rather have the MVP or Him (assuming they're hip to the lingo), they'll pick the guy that comes through when the lights are brightest and when the most is on the line.
Rest assured that the lights will be brighter than ever when Austin FC takes on in-state rivals FC Dallas in a Western Conference Semifinal, 7pm Sunday at Q2 Stadium, after the latter defeated Minnesota United Monday in another penalty shoot-out. Despite lifting the Copa Tejas trophy at Toyota Field earlier this season, Austin FC has never actually beaten FC Dallas in five tries (three losses and two draws). But the Verde and Black will enter as favorites, partly because of home-field advantage, but mostly because they have Him and FC Dallas doesn't.
Sports franchises sometimes wait decades for Him to arrive and put on their squad's jersey. Austin FC had to wait just half a season. Sebastián Driussi is Him, he wears No. 7 in Verde, and Austin FC will go as far as he takes them.
Austin FC vs. FC Dallas
Sunday, Oct. 23, 7pm, Q2 Stadium
Austin FC will host FC Dallas in the MLS Western Conference Semifinal at Q2 Stadium this Sunday. The match will be on national TV on ESPN in English and ESPN Deportes in Spanish. On radio, it'll be on KASE-HD2 (ALT 97.5FM) in English, and KLQB-HD2 (TUDN Radio Austin, 104.3FM) in Spanish.
If they win this match, second-seed Austin FC will advance to the Conference Final on Sunday, Oct. 30, hosted by the highest remaining seed. First-seed LAFC hosts fourth-seed LA Galaxy in the other semifinal tonight, Thu., Oct. 20, at 9pm.