Austin continued their road travels with a Week 4 visit to Kansas City. With multiple road victories and a two game win streak, the Verde were starting to be recognized as a playoff threat. Their rank would be put to question, as this week, they would face another MLS Cup Contender in SKC.
For this match, head coach Josh Wolff would start a relatively familiar lineup. Stuver stayed in goal, while the back four (Kolmanic, Besler, Romaña and Lima) and midfield trio (Fagundez, Ring and Pochettino) remained unchanged. In attack, John Gallagher started at the striker position instead of Danny Hoesen – playing alongside Jared Stroud and Cecilio Dominguez.
Historically, expansion franchises have had difficult experiences at Children’s Mercy Park. Since its construction, only one first year team (Montreal) has ever won at this Stadium. Unfortunately for ATXFC, they would remain the rule and not the exception. Despite leading for a majority of the match, the Verde visitors would lose 2-1.
From the onset, the match was high paced and expansive. Austin FC would take an early lead. In the 7th minute, Jared Stroud would find Jon Gallagher in the box for the opener. Stroud beautifully curved the ball, connecting with the striker from deep. Ten minutes later, SKC’s Gianluca Busio would have a few chances at goal but would fail to put any of them away.
The entire first half was end to end, both teams had their fair share of attempts. In the 31st minute, SKC forward Sallioi would be one on one with Stuver but have his shot deflected away. Moments later, Tomas Pochettino would nearly score, hitting the crossbar from outside the 18 yard box.
Going into halftime, despite losing 1-0, SKC looked like a more dangerous team. They would outshoot the Verde 12-7 while also gaining more corners (6-1).
Entering the second half, the game continued its end to end pace. Like earlier, SKC had a majority of chances but Austin were still able to get a few shots in. The tone of the game completely changed when, in the 65th minute, Captain Alex Ring was be sent off after aggressively trying to intercept a pass. Austin’s number 8 was already sitting on a yellow and unfortunately he would be shown a second. Head Coach Josh Wolff would need to make drastic tactical changes, and 5 minutes later, he would bring on Sebastian Berhalter and Julio Cascante in place of Gallagher and Dominguez.
The Verde would play with 3 centre-backs (Cascante, Romaña and Besler) and lineup in a 5-3-1 formation for the rest of the game. Austin would have to play more defensively, trying to preserve the 1-0 lead.
In the 82nd minute, SKC’s persistent attack would finally pay off. Ilie would head the ball into the back of the Verde net off of a corner. Within those last few minutes of regular time, Austin would try counter but with limited success. A minute into extra time, the home team would finally take the lead. Gari Kinda would pick out the far post with another header. ATXFC at that point seemed deflated and unable to cope with the momentum change. Seven minutes of extra time were awarded but it was a little too late for the visitors from Texas.
Unfortunately for Austin, they will be without their Captain for the following match (vs LA Galaxy). Hopefully the squad can regroup and use this past match as a good learning experience – much like their opener against LAFC.
Who’s your Austin FC Man of the Match against Sporting KC?