Austin FC put in a gritty come-from-behind performance to get all three points on the road against DC United. Austin finally end their winless drought on the road thanks to an inspired final 20 minutes. Through seven games, the verde and black will go to sleep tonight in FIRST place in the Western Conference, one point ahead of LAFC (who play tomorrow).
Three changes to the starting lineup this week saw Nick Lima return in place of Héctor Jimenez at right back, Jon Gallagher replacing Žan Kolmanič at right back, and Jhojan Valencia starting in the midfield in place of Ethan Finlay.
These changes pushed Diego Fagúndez out to the right wing and Sebastián Driussi to the left wing. Alex Ring played as the advanced midfielder in front of a double-pivot consisting of Daniel Periera and Valencia. It will be interesting to see if this will become Josh Wolff’s preferred formation for just away matches, or all matches going forward.
The first notable moment was an unfortunate one for Austin FC. In the 4th minute, Sebastian Driussi pulled up clutching his left calf after a pretty mild tackle. Although it did not look good for Driussi, he did come back into the game moments later.
The first scare for Austin FC came in the 7th minute, as Ola Kamara found space in behind the ATXFC back line and buried his 1-on-1 with Brad Stuver. Fortunately, Kamara was offside.
The first chance for Austin FC came in the 15th minute. Maxi Urruti pressed the DC United goalkeeper Bill Hamid, winning the ball about eight yards from goal. Hamid positioned himself well, and Urruti blasted his shot over the bar.
DC United controlled much of the first half. ATXFC struggled to get out of their own half due mostly to their inability to string multiple passes together. On top of that, DC was determined to focus their attack down the right wing at Gallagher.
Ola Kamara put DC United up 1-0 in the 26th minute. A cross from the right side of the attack found Andy Najar at the back post. Najar headed the ball back to the center of the box where Kamara was waiting to put it past Stuver. Kamara’s celebration, taking off his shirt, earned him a yellow. More on that later.
Austin seemed to respond well to going a goal down and were able to enjoy some time in the attacking half. This play led to a goal ruled out for Urruti standing about 25 feet offside.
DC doubled their advantage in the 40th minute. A short corner routine caught Austin off guard, leading to a shambolic bit of defending. The set piece routine found Kamara all alone near the penalty spot, who buried his second goal of the evening.
Deep into stoppage time, Driussi chased a through ball towards Austin’s attacking endline. Kamara got in front of Driussi attempting to shepherd the ball out of touch. Driussi, however, managed to get around Kamara to keep the ball in play. Kamara then took Driussi out, resulting in his second yellow of the match. Dc would play the entire second half with ten men.
The second half started off much better for Austin. ATXFC immediately began to take advantage of being up a man. DC decided to hang back and protect their lead, leaving one isolated striker for counterattacks. This plan began to ratchet up the pressure on DC’s back line and continued to do so throughout the entire half.
During the 56th minute, Jimenez, Kolmanič, and Finlay came into the match replacing their respective starting spots mentioned earlier. This substitution changed the entire match. The commentators on Austin’s Univision affiliate described bringing Jimenez on as throwing gasoline on the match. I cannot think of a better description.
Josh Wolff must get some credit for these substitutions. Jimenez and Kolmanič added a new dimension to the attack which DC struggled to cope with. This pressure began to frustrate DC even when they were up 2-0.
The party started in the 80th minute. Fagúndez put in a corner to the back post. Danny Hoesen did very well to get in front of his marker and got his left foot on the ball. An excellent finish for his first league goal for the club.
Jimenez began to send excellent crosses from the right wing to DC’s back post that troubled their defense. Hoesen nearly scored his second on one of these crosses. In the 85th minutes, Jimenez connected with Driussi at the back post. Driussi calmly finished to the far post, 2-2.
You could sense Austin may not be finished yet. On the 90th minute, another back post cross sealed the deal. Fagúndez crossed from the left wing and found Ruben Gabrielsen. Gabrielsen headed the ball down and Hamid mishandled the header in his own net.
Final Score: Austin FC 3, DC United 2.
Next up, Austin FC come back to Q2 to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps, who only have 4 points after 7 games, on Saturday, April 23rd.
Winless Road Streak Snapped
Austin had received fewer than three points in each of the last 16 away matches. I mentioned last week that the average playoff teams receive about 1.2 points/game from away matches and therefore Austin would have to improve. Although the first half was bleak at times, the strong second half is a sight for sore eyes. This team has some grit and fight to them, evidenced by the last 5 minutes of the match where Driussi and Fagúndez kept the ball in the attacking corner and generally frustrated DC. I love me a bit of gamesmanship.
The Back Post Cross (my bad)
Last week, I took Austin to task over their use of the back post cross tactic. Minnesota defended the back post cross so well, I questioned whether this tactic was worth keeping around. I was pretty wrong. Tonight, the back post cross was a back breaker for DC United. Jimenez and Fagúndez put in excellent crosses in the final 20 minutes tonight to devastating effect. This is one of those cases where I am definitely glad to be wrong.
Danny Hoesen is Here
Danny Hoesen was much maligned by us fans last year for his lack of impact all season. Hoesen has clearly played his way in front of Djitté on the depth chart. I, for one, am so glad to see him get his due. His goal tonight was finished superbly. Here’s to more of this play from Hoesen.
Austin FC Goal Scoring Summary
- 80’ – Danny Hoesen (Diego Fagúndez)
- 85’ – Sebastián Driussi (Héctor Jimenez)
- 90’ – Ruben Gabrielsen (Diego Fagúndez)
Goal Scoring Summary – Minnesota
- 26’ – Ola Kamara (Andy Najar)
- 40’ – Ola Kamara (Julian Gressel)
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