Match Recap: Austin FC 4, Sporting Kansas City 3

Austin FC comes from behind to beat Sporting Kansas City at home, 4-3. Through twenty-five games, Austin sits in second place in the Western Conference, six points behind LAFC who have a game in hand.

Austin FC brought out the same starting lineup as the last match against San Jose. Austin’s starting lineup consisted of Daniel Pereira, Alex Ring, and Sebastián Driussi in the midfield and an attacking three of Diego Fagúndez, Maxi Urruti, and Ethan Finlay.

Sporting KC would strike first in the 12th minute, thanks to a couple of poor defensive plays from Austin. Ring gave up a foul right on the edge of the penalty area. Johnny Russell hit the resulting free-kick hard at Stuver who was unable to hold onto it. However, the other ten Austin players stood still as the rebound fell to Andreu Fontàs who put it in the empty net. Austin 0-1 Sporting KC.

Austin American-Statesman

Despite Austin looking more dangerous right after the goal, Sporting KC would double their lead just eleven minutes later. Graham Zusi hit a through ball in behind Austin defensive finding Róger Espinoza, whose shot was parried by Stuver. The rebound fell to William Agade who did enough to put it past Stuver. Austin 0-2 Sporting KC.

Austin continued putting pressure on Sporting KC and were rewarded in the 27th minute. Fagúndez found himself on the ball on the right wing from a recycled corner and crossed the ball into the box. The ball was cleared by the Sporting KC defense out to Jon Gallagher, who hit a low rocket into the bottom left corner! Austin 1-2 Sporting KC.

Austin FC Instagram

Another poor defensive play cost Austin in the 40th minute. Finlay unnecessarily took Erik Thommy down in the box. Russell converted the penalty. Halftime: Austin 1-3 Sporting KC.

Sporting KC began the first half sitting back and attempting to hit Austin on the counterattack. This nearly worked on several occasions if not for two last-ditch saves by Stuver.

Austin FC would pull within one goal in the 63rd minute. After a recycled corner, Danny Hoesen found Driussi on the right side of the penalty area. Driussi’s cross was deflected by a Sporting KC defender. Julio Cascante reacted well to the deflection, heading the ball back across goal and past John Pulskamp! Austin 2-3 Sporting KC.

Austin FC Instagram

Austin drew level with Sporting KC in the 85th minute. An Austin free kick was cleared as far as Felipe near the halfway line. Felipe hit the ball off the volley over the top behind the Sporting KC defensive line, finding Hoesen, who had his back towards goal. Hoesen turned and hit the ball on the volley off the left post and into the back of the net! Austin 3-3 Sporting KC.

Austin FC Instagram

Deep in stoppage time, Austin completed the comeback! Žan Kolmanič hit an early cross towards the back post. Finlay knocked the ball down and towards the penalty spot. And who else? With a late run from midfield, Driussi buries it past Pulskamp!

Austin FC Instagram

Final Score: Austin FC 4, Sporting Kansas City 3.

Next up, Austin FC hit the road to take on Minnesota United on Saturday, August 20th. Minnesota United are in 4th place in the Western Conference, with 35 points after 24 matches.

Three Takeaways

Our Defense is Shaky Lately

For the third straight match at home, we give up at least three goals. Despite scoring more than three goals in those games as well, we only secured 4 points (3-4 loss to New York, 3-3 draw to San Jose, and tonight’s 4-3 win over Sporting KC). Teams are regularly getting in behind Cascante and Gabrielsen. Our wingbacks are pushed so high up the pitch, leaving so much space in and around the center back pairing. However, this is all part of this new style of soccer where the wingbacks are offensive players. Teams like Liverpool play a similar way. The difference, however, is that in a team like Liverpool the central defensive midfielders drop back into the back line, something that Pereira or Ring do not really do. The result is looking completely wide open in transition. For now, we are scoring enough to compensate.

Danny Hoesen Deserves Praise

Danny Hoesen had a rough start to his Austin FC career last season. His injury forced him to miss an extended period of time and never really got going. However, he has been brilliant this season. Coming off the bench, he provides the attack with a different look than when we have Urruti up top. After battling Urruti for 60 minutes, opposing defenses must hate seeing Hoesen (or Djitté for that matter) come on the pitch. Hoesen’s holdup play is excellent, and he seems to be in the right places at the right times. Tonight, was no different. The match changed with his substitution, and he was involved in all three second half goals. Well done, Danny!

Austin FC – Playoff Bound?

After a quick search, 48 points (what Austin has after tonight’s match) would be enough to make the playoffs in either conference for as far back as I could find standings for. A look at this year’s table shows we are nearly in even if we fail to pick up any more points this season. The top seven teams in each conference make the playoffs. Right now we are 15 points ahead of 8th place Portland, who have also played one more match than Austin. There are only 24 points left for Portland to grab this season, meaning we either need 9 more points or Portland needs to drop 9 points for us to clinch our spot. FiveThirtyEight has Austin with >99% odds to make the playoffs. Depending on the results, we could know for certain by the end of August/early September.

Goal Scoring Summary

Austin FC

  • 27’ – Jon Gallagher (unassisted)
  • 63’ – Julio Cascante (unassisted)
  • 85’ – Danny Hoesen (Felipe Martins)
  • 90+4’ – Sebastián Driussi (unassisted)

Sporting Kansas City

  • 12’ – Andreu Fontàs (unassisted)
  • 23’ – William Agada (unassisted)
  • 40’ – Johnny Russell (unassisted)

Austin FC Man of the Match

Tonight’s Man of the Match is Danny Hoesen (although Driussi gets a shout as usual). Hoesen kept play alive for our second goal, scored a beautiful volleyed finish for our third, and his run open the space for Driussi on our game-winner.

Cover Photo Credit: Austin FC Instagram

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