Austin FC played 45 minutes with ten men but persevered to beat CF Montreal 1-0. Through fifteen games, Austin sits in third place in the Western Conference, three points behind LAFC and one point behind Real Salt Lake. Real Salt Lake has played one more match than both LAFC and Austin.
The match started off sloppy for Austin, especially playing out from the back. In the 6th minute, Julio Cascante left his pass for Daniel Pereira short and it was intercepted by Victor Wanyama. Pereira pulled Wanyama down from behind, earning a yellow card in the process. That was Pereira’s 5th yellow this season.
Austin then began to look slightly dangerous, enjoying time on the ball in and around Montreal’s penalty area. The best chance fell to Sebastian Driussi; however, he could not hit the target from ten yards out.
The club’s Austin’s sloppy play continued with Brad Stuver giving the ball away along the end line and then clearing the ball off his own defender. Luckily, neither of these resulted in even a shot on goal.
Stuver redeemed this play in the 28th minute with a point-blank save, stopping Kei Kamara from scoring off a Montreal corner. For the majority of the first half hour, Austin had to soak up pressure from Montreal and was able to mostly keep their defensive shape.
Austin began to add through balls over the top and in behind the Montreal defense to their possession style of build-up play, mostly targeted towards Owen Wolff. Although these through balls looked to create some chances for Austin, they ultimately did not amount to anything.
Pereira then took another completely unnecessary yellow in the 45th minute, resulting in his second sending-off of the season. Pereira pulled down Mathieu Choinière as Choinière went past him with the ball. The foul occurred just outside Montreal’s own penalty area, where Montreal was of no threat. The match went to halftime scoreless, but with Austin down to ten men.
Montreal dominated possession to start the second half. The first chance of the second half fell to Kamara. Zachary Brault Guillard beat Jon Gallagher on the right wing and hit a low cross about 8 yards from goal. Cascante could not get his footing right and the ball fell right to a wide-open Kamara. Luckily, Kamara hit his shot right at Stuver.
Austin responded just several minutes later with their best chance of the match to that point. Maxi Urruti found Diego Fagúndez with a through ball on the right wing. Fagúndez hit a powerful shot that got past the Montreal keeper but was kept out by the post.
ATX continued to look dangerous and finally broke the deadlock in the 67th minute. A slick give-and-go between Gallagher and Driussi found Gallagher behind Montreal’s left back. Gallagher looked up and found Urruti running in behind the defense. Urruti’s first touch nearly let him down, but he recovered to chip his shot into the back of the net. Austin 1-0 Montreal.
Driussi nearly made it two just a few minutes later. He had a free header at the back post from a Fagúndez cross but was thwarted by the Montreal keeper.
Montreal found success during the last twenty minutes on the wings and were determined to cross many balls into the box hoping for a lucky bounce. They nearly got the lucky bounce in the 86th minute.
The cross ricocheted around in the box and landed at the feet of Romell Quioto in front of goal. Quioto could not get a strong foot on the ball, however, and the slow-rolling shot was saved off the line by Stuver.
Despite twenty minutes of increasing pressure by Montreal, the ten-man ATX squad held strong. Austin earned their first clean sheet since April 23rd against Vancouver.
Final Score: Austin FC 1, Montreal 0.
Next up, Austin FC returns home to take on FC Dallas on Saturday, June 25th. FC Dallas is currently two points behind Austin and is in fourth place in the Western Conference.
Defensive Structure Wins the Match
I didn’t have the highest of hopes entering halftime. Montreal already had the better of the chances in the first half, and that was before Austin lost Pereira and went down to 10 men. The second-half game plan worked to perfection. Austin bent, but they did not break. They only got three good chances at goal in the second half and managed to convert on one. Much like the LAFC match from last month, Austin held strong under lots of pressure. This is something playoff teams need to do down the stretch and in knockout matches.
Jon Gallagher Looks like a Proper Wingback
Jon Gallagher was mostly impressive to me tonight. He had a few hiccups. But considering he has not played wingback for even a season in Austin, he looks the part. His ability to read and cut out through balls down the wing is improving, as is his linkup play with the midfield. If he can learn when and when not to push up the field defensively, he could solidify his spot at left back.
Will we see Owen Wolff in the Midfield Against Dallas?
Daniel Pereira may be sorely missed against FC Dallas, time will tell. However, in the first 20 minutes of the second half Owen Wolff held his own in midfield. He previously has played in the midfield before transitioning to winger, and I think he may be tested there during the FC Dallas match. Jhojan Valencia is out indefinitely, and Felipe Martins has not been very impressive over a full 90. Perhaps we may see Alex Ring as holding midfielder with Driussi and Wolff as the two eights and Ethan Finlay at right wing.
Goal Scoring Summary – Austin FC
- 67’ – Maxi Urruti (Jon Gallagher)
(Cover Photo Credit: Austin FC Instagram)
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