The 2022 season got off to a smoldering start for Austin FC on a cold, rainy evening.
Josh Wolff’s men could not ask for a better first matchday — 5 goals, a clean sheet, and 3 points against FC Cincinnati. The margin of victory is the largest in the club’s history.
Kipp Keller, Maxi Urruti, Ethan Finlay, Ruben Gabrielsen, Jhojan Valencia and Felipe Martins all made their Austin FC debuts. Those fresh faces did not hinder the team performance or cohesion.
Cecilo Domínguez opened the scoring just 2 minutes in from a dangerous set piece ball delivered across the six-yard box by Zan Kolmanic. The delivery passed by three FC Cincinnati defenders en route to Domínguez waiting at the back post. Just 12 minutes later, Alex Ring put away the second goal of the match after Nick Lima lofted a ball again to the back post. Although Ring probably did not strike the ball as cleanly as he would like, he drove it into the turf bouncing over the Kann’s head and into the back of the net.
Just before halftime Sebastián Driussi scored Austin’s third, nutmegging Kann in the process. The build-up play for Austin’s third was the real star of the show. Intricate passing on the right wing between Ring, Diego Fagúndez, and Driussi cut through Cincinnati’s defense like it was standing still.
Sixty-one minutes in, a wonderful lobbed through ball by Daniel Pereira found Driussi through on goal. Driussi unselfishly drew in the keeper and squared it to Domínguez who could not miss the empty net, scoring his brace. Finally, in extra time, Moussa Djitté skated past Bailey (the Cincinnati defender) down the byline. Djitté’s driven cross, aimed at Fagúndez, was deflected by Kann into his own net.
Differences in formations partly described Austin’s early success in the first half. Austin played some variation on a 4-3-3. The midfield three consisted of Pereira as the holding defensive midfielder, with Ring and Driussi playing further forward almost as two number 10’s at times. Cincinnati on the other hand, looked to be playing a 4-4-2 with a diamond in midfield. The right and left most midfielders played quite narrow, allowing acres of space for Austin’s wingers and wingbacks. Austin found joy pinging passes to the wings for the entirety of the first half and in the latter part of the second half.
Despite the score line, it was not always a comfortable affair for ATXFC. Cincinnati seemed determined to focus their attack on Kipp Keller in his debut. Particularly in the first half, Kolmanic pushed way up the left side of the field. At times Kolmanic was even advanced of Domínguez, leaving Keller isolated in the left side of defense. Keller did well in recovery and in his positioning, however, he was forced to take a yellow card while left isolated on the wing in the first half.
Cincinnati threatened on several occasions and in both halves, but only managed to put two shots on target all evening. The goal difference can simply be attributed to finishing. Four of Austin’s five shots on target wound up in the back of Kann’s net, a welcome change for every Austin fan.
In his post-match interview, team captain Alex Ring stated “In the end it’s just 3 points, you know. First game of the season, we have a lot of games left”.
Final Score: Austin FC 5, FC Cincinnati 0.
Austin FC host Inter Miami CF next Sunday, March 6th at Q2 Stadium.
Austin FC looked hungry for goals tonight, recording 19 shots and 5 on target. Last season, Austin averaged just 13.2 shots/game. At times in 2021, it seemed as though no one wanted to shoot, so this could be a positive step.
Lads, it’s Cincinnati
Cincinnati finished bottom of the league last season and based on this performance I’m not sure if they will finish any better in 2022. Also, Austin played them at home where teams should get three points more often than not. Despite all the shots taken, only 5 (26.3%) were on target. This would have placed Austin dead last in shots on target percentage last season. On top of that, Austin greatly outperformed their xG (expected goals), scoring 5 goals while recording an xG of 3.
Austin’s young players stood out tonight — Kipp Keller and Dani Pereira, in particular. The ceiling looks high for these two, and the other young players in this squad. The future is bright here in Austin.
Austin FC Goal Scoring Summary
- 2’ – Cecilio Domínguez (assisted by Žan Kolmanič)
- 14’ – Alex Ring (assisted by Nick Lima)
- 43’ – Sebastián Driussi (assisted by Diego Fagundez)
- 61’ – Cecilio Domínguez (assisted by Sebastián Driussi)
- 90+3′ – Alec Kann (own goal)
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