Austin FC came from behind to secure a 2-1 victory on the road against Houston. Austin won their second straight MLS road game. Through nine games, Austin return to first place in the Western Conference, one point ahead of LAFC (who play tomorrow at home against Minnesota).
Austin FC rolled out the same starting lineup this week. Brad Stuver started in goal, the back line consisted of Nick Lima and Jon Gallagher at wingbacks with Ruben Gabrielsen and Julio Cascante at center backs. A midfield three consisted of Daniel Pereira, Alex Ring, and Sebastián Driussi. The attack was spearheaded by Maxi Urruti in the number 9, with Diego Fagúndez and Ethan Finlay to the left and right wings, respectively.
Just five minutes in, Pereira attempt to play a back pass to Stuver from the attacking half. The weight of the pass was all wrong forcing Stuver to meet the ball near the half-way line. Stuver sent the ball up field where it was intercepted by Adam Lundqvist. Lundqvist played a quick pass to Sebastián Ferreira, who looked up and Stuver way off his line. Ferreira put the ball into the back of the net.
In addition to finding themselves down a goal early, Stuver was also injured on the play. It looked as though he landed on the bar that runs along the back of the net. This forced Josh Wolff to bring on Andrew Tarbell in replacement.
Despite previous subpar performances from Tarbell, he started out pretty well. Darwin Quintero had two excellent opportunities shortly after Tarbell came on. Tarbell parried those away and looked confident in the process.
Pereira evened the match at 1-1 in the 39th minute. Ring played a through ball out to the right wing where Finlay got behind Lundqvist. Finlay put his cross to the back post where Pereira finished expertly on the volley. This marks Pereira’s first goal for the club, and in MLS.
The rest of the first half was back-and-forth, with both teams having several opportunities to ran at the opposing backlines. Austin enjoyed most of the possession and most of the attacking chances.
The half culminated in a chance for Pereira just inside the penalty area. Pereira’s shot was hit hard but nearly directly at Steve Clark. The spirited first half would end even at 1-1.
The second half started similar to how the first half ended, with the majority of chances falling to ATXFC. However, Houston had their share of opportunities as well. Tarbell stood tall and made several strong saves. Austin FC began to grow into the game more and more.
In the 66th minute, Fagúndez found himself on the ball on the left wing. Driussi showed for the ball and received the pass from Fagúndez at the top left corner of the penalty. Driussi turned, took one step to his right, and curled a beautiful shot into the top right corner over Clark’s outstretched arms. ATXFC 2, Houston 1.
Houston nearly scored right after the kickoff but for another save from Tarbell. Over the last 20 minutes, Houston began to possess the ball more and put ATXFC’s backline under an increasing amount of pressure.
Houston had several decent chances to equalize but were mostly wasteful in front of goal. Tarbell saved a few half chances, Gabrielsen blocked a decent chance, and Houston put a few chances wide of goal entirely. Overall, ATXFC defended well enough that stoppage time was not all that nervy.
Final Score: Austin FC 2, Houston 1.
Next up, Austin FC come back to Q2 to take on the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday, May 8th. The LA Galaxy are currently in 3rd place in the West before games are played today. With a win against Real Salt Lake, they could find themselves just one point back of Austin heading into what should be an excellent match next Sunday.
Driussi Does it Again
With yet another goal, Driussi finds himself in first place in the Golden Boot Race with 7 goals this season. Additionally, Fagúndez is now in first place in assists with 6 on the season. Both these stats are subject to change with the rest of the weekends results, but the combination of these two has been electric thus far.
Andrew Tarbell has perhaps not had the amount of playing time he expected since joining Austin FC. And his few starts for the club were less than stellar. However, Tarbell deserves the utmost praise after today’s performance. He came in cold off the bench and was a brick wall in front of goal for 80+ minutes. In the event the Stuver misses time, I am far more optimistic about our prospects than I was.
Defense Looks Solid
I have been very impressed with how our backline has played most of the season so far. The center back partnership of Cascante and Gabrielsen looks very strong. Positionally, they occupy space well to minimize excellent chances. They also have been calm on the ball. Additionally, we have four fullbacks who can legitimately start games.
Austin FC Goal Scoring Summary
- 39’ – Daniel Pereira (Ethan Finlay)
- 66’ – Sebastián Driussi (Diego Fagúndez)
Goal Scoring Summary – Houston
- 5’ – Sebastián Ferreira (Adam Lundqvist)
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