Austin FC fought hard for a tough 1-1 draw against the Seattle Sounders. Through three games, ATXFC still find themselves in third place in the Western Conference, three points out of first, before the Los Angeles FC match tonight.
Seattle came to town last July and fielded five teenagers in the starting lineup. That young side beat Austin 1-0. This time around, Seattle fielded an experienced side.
Two changes to the ATXFC starting lineup saw Ethan Finlay starting in place of Diego Fagúndez and Moussa Djitté starting in place of Maxi Urruti. I was concerned how this would affect ATXFC’s defensive stability and press.
In the opening ten minutes, however, ATXFC’s press suffocated Seattle. The ball barely left Seattle’s defensive half in those ten minutes. It looked as though another early home goal was in the cards for ATXFC.
However, in the next fifteen minutes Seattle grew into the game. Austin’s press became less effective enabling Seattle to possess the ball more. Seattle began to make inroads into their attacking half.
Sloppy tackling provided Seattle with two dangerous set pieces. Although ATXFC came away from those set pieces unscathed, it was obvious the pressure started to wear down Austin’s defensive plan. This pressure caused Ruben Gabrielsen to give away the ball in his penalty area, something we have been accustomed to seeing once per game from this Austin side.
The first great chance of the game fell to Seattle and Albert Rusnák. In the 26th minute, Nick Lima was beaten by Seattle’s Brazilian winger Léo Chú on the halfway line. ATXFC struggled to get back into defensive shape, however Gabrielsen got back in time to block Rusnák’s shot from about 15 yards out.
It was not all one way traffic, however. In the 34th minute, a corner routine for ATXFC worked it’s way to Djitté about eight yards from goal. Djitté mishit the volleyed attempt badly, and didn’t really trouble Seattle’s goalkeeper.
In the 43rd minute, another Austin wingback, this time Žan Kolmanič, was caught pressed way up field. This resulted in acres of space for Cristian Roldan down the right wing. Gabrielsen was caught defending between Roldan and Will Bruin. Roldan’s driven cross found Bruin, who did not waste his chance. Seattle 1, ATXFC 0.
At the start of the second half, Seattle’s gameplan shifted to sitting back and counterattacking. This plan nearly paid off in the 50th minute.
Again, Seattle’s counterattack found space in behind Kolmanič on the right wing. The cross found Joao Paulo, who chested the ball to feet, and mishit his volleyed attempt. This mishit found Léo Chú wide open around eight yards from goal, who blasted his shot over the bar. A huge let off for Austin.
Austin went close in the 64th minute. Lima’s long throw find Ring just in front of the penalty spot. Ring’s volleyed attempt hit the post. A minute later, another Lima long throw troubled Seattle’s defensive, but ultimately did not amount to anything.
In the 67th minute, a corner routine for Austin was worked well, and a cross found Gabrielsen. Gabrielsen’s header was pushed over the bar by an excellent save from Stefan Cleveland.
Seattle finally succumbed to all this pressure in the 70th minute. Diego Fagúndez (who else) scored an excellent half volley following a header across the box from Cecilio Domínguez.
Seconds after the restart, ATXFC won the ball back. Chaos in the box and the ball finds its way to Alex Ring. Unfortunately, Alex Ring blasted it off the post far what seemed like the 10th time. A few minutes later, Kelyn Rowe also hit the crossbar for Seattle against the run of play.
The game became a frantic back-and-forth affair. An errant shot in the 76th minute found Alex Ring on the penalty spot, but Ring couldn’t put it past Cleveland. Minutes later, Stuver made an excellent save from a dangerous shot by Fredy Montero.
Overall, the result about equaled what was deserved for both sides. You would be correct by saying that Austin could have been victorious if they had been more clinical in front of goal. The same could be said of Seattle.
Austin looked most dangerous when they played quickly in the final third and put crosses or lofted balls into the penalty area. Cleveland looked shaky at times defending crosses. There were several points in the second half where Austin slowed down play and attempted to pass their way into the back of the net. Who knows if Austin could have gotten all three points if they had played more direct the entire game.
Final Score: Austin FC 1, Seattle 1.
Next up, Austin FC have a week off before traveling to San Jose to take on the 13th place Earthquakes on Saturday, April 2nd. If there is an away match to break our road losing streak, it should be this one.
Defensive Positioning in Recovery needs Work
It is fairly obvious that Austin FC looks shakiest after just losing possession. Recovering their positioning and shape after giving the ball away needs some work. Part of this is due to the back lines lack of playing time together. Gabrielsen looks to still be gelling with Cascante. That relationship should improve over time if he continues to start.
Attacking Play is a Double-Edged Sword
A major difference between last season and this season is the sheer numbers of players that join the attack. Last season we were crying out for players to get into and around the penalty area. This season, the striker, two wingers, one or two midfielders, and both wingbacks push way up the field. This leaves us very vulnerable at the back. I prefer this version for sure, but it will be interesting to see if Austin can find a solution for the counterattacks (particularly down the wings) we have been susceptible to.
Finishing Robbed us of 2 Points
Austin are taking a ton of shots this season. Today Austin had 21 total shots with eight on target, doubling that of Seattle. The issue is putting the ball in the back of net. Austin hit the posts and crossbars on several occasions and on a different day one of those might sneak in. In that way, this game wasn’t all that different than the Cincinnati or Miami games.
Goal Scoring Summary
Austin FC Goal Scoring Summary
- 70’ – Diego Fagúndez (unassisted)
Seattle Goal Scoring Summary
- 43’ – Will Bruin (assisted by Cristian Roldan)
(Cover Photo Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports)
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