Wolff himself admitted his state of mind was a whole lot grimmer 365 days ago.
“I'm sure it wasn't in the best place,” he said with a brief flash of a smile. “But I think there were positives from year one, and we talk about it often, Claudio [Reyna, Austin’s sporting director], myself, the staff. There's the growing from an expansion team, from nothing – from nothing. It's challenging and this league, these coaches, and these players are so good.
“We showed some of that quality last year and that learning, as I call it, is part of what put us in this place this year. And we've taken some things away, we've added some things. The group's been very responsive to most everything we've done. We still want to play good soccer, we want to entertain, but you know you have to win games and that's what validates it for players, for fans, ownership, everybody. So we're in a much different place.”
Wolff, his colleagues and their squad have shown a capacity to adapt and evolve, and it’s taken them farther than even they dared to imagine last winter.
Now, they're on the doorstep of MLS Cup on Nov. 5. A win at Supporters' Shield leaders LAFC next Sunday (3 pm ET | ABC, ESPN Deportes in US; TSN 4, TVA Sports in Canada) seals that ticket, possibly even hosting if NYCFC knock off the Philadelphia Union in the Eastern Conference portion of the bracket.
“We had certainly the idea and the hope that we could get to here. Was it in the Semifinals, and you're on the verge of MLS Cup? I don’t know if we put our dreams that far,” Wolff said, “but we knew we could compete and make it to the playoffs. And I always say, you get to the playoffs in this league, you have an opportunity. And we’ve got a great opportunity.”