Austin FC took care of business at home against one of the league’s worst sides tonight. Austin grabbed all three points and controlled most of the match. Through eight games, Austin return to first place in the Western Conference, one point ahead of LAFC (who play tomorrow).
The only changes to the starting lineup this week saw Ethan Finlay replace Jhojan Valencia in the midfield. Jon Gallagher gets his second straight start at left back and impressed. Finlay returned to the right wing, while Diego Fagúndez started out left. Sebastián Driussi played in the number 10.
The first shot on goal fell to Vancouver’s Brian White in the 5th minute. White rose above Ruben Gabrielsen to meet a cross and got his header on target. But the shot was weak and was easily saved by Brad Stuver. This sequence would mark Vancouver’s only shot on target all evening.
Just a few minutes later, Gallagher put Marcus Godinho under pressure while receiving a pass. Gallagher’s tackle forced the ball into the path of Driussi, who slipped Maxi Urruti through on goal. Urruti fired first time past Thomas Hasal putting ATXFC up 1-0.
Austin enjoyed more than 70% of the possession in the first half. The possession lead to several notable chances. In the 16th minute, Driussi found space near the edge of the penalty area and made Hasal work to keep it at 1-0.
Urruti doubled his goal tally and Austin FC’s league in the 26th minute. Daniel Pereira charged through the midfield taking three Vancouver men with him. Pereira laid the ball off to Ring, who in turn found Urruti on the edge of the penalty area around the same spot Druissi was in just minutes earlier. Urruti turned and finished to the bottom left corner with yet another sublime finish.
Both teams had half chances to end the first half. The first came from an Austin set piece. Fagúndez’s cross found Julio Cascante at the back post but his header was off target. Cascante then block a Vancouver cross that fell to Lucas Cavallini.
The second half started off better for Vancouver in that they had a bit more possession in the early stages. Vancouver’s best chance came just twenty seconds into the half. On the left wing, Cavallini found Cristián Dájome in some space. Dájome cut inside, beating Gabrielsen, and looked to have Stuver beat. Dájome, however, blasted his shot well over the crossbar.
Austin FC grew into the half a little after that, and the game turned into more of a back-and-forth affair. In the 68th minute, Austin would extend their lead to three. Nick Lima’s long throw from the right side about parallel to the edge of the penalty area was flicked on by Cascante. First to this header was Driussi, heading the ball past Hasal and putting ATXFC out of sight.
Although the game continued its back-and-forth trajectory, the chances favored ATXFC for the rest of the match. The pressing of Urruti, Driussi, and Alex Ring won the ball back high up the pitch on several occasions, leading to some decent looks at goal. Ultimately these chances lead to no goals, but ATXFC was able to see out the clean sheet and the victory relatively comfortably.
Final Score: Austin FC 3, Vancouver 0.
Next up, Austin FC travels to PNC Stadium to take on the Houston Dynamo in our first Texas Derby of the season on Saturday, April 30th. Houston is off to a good start, with 12 points after 8 games. Houston finds itself in 6th place in the Western Conference.
Golden Boot Frontrunner
Thanks to tonight’s goal, Driussi finds himself in first place in the Golden Boot Race. Driussi now has 6 goals this season. Four players have 5 goals this season: Jeremy Ebobisse (San Jose), Jesus Ferreira (Dallas), Chicharito (LA Galaxy), and Brandon Vázquez (Cincinnati). Additionally, Fagúndez is in a three-way tie for place in assists with 5 on the season.
Have Yourself a Game, Jon Gallagher
Jon Gallagher may not have wanted to play left back when he joined last season, but he is certainly growing into the role. He made his second consecutive start at left back tonight, and I can’t help but wonder if he’s officially won his spot there. I was very impressed with his decision-making tonight. He knew when to press forward to cut off Vancouver’s passing on the wing (see Austin’s first goal tonight). And he has the speed to recover when beaten. Here’s to seeing more of Jon as the season rolls along.
POLLO! POLLO! POLLO!
We must celebrate Pollo. We must chant for Pollo. We must sing for Pollo. We must jump for Pollo. We are Pollo. Pollo is us.
Austin FC Goal Scoring Summary
- 11’ – Maxi Urruti (Sebastián Driussi)
- 26’ – Maxi Urruti (Alex Ring)
- 68’ – Sebastián Driussi (Julio Cascante)
Goal Scoring Summary – Vancouver
(Cover Photo Credit: Austin FC Instagram)
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