Austin FC struggle to convert possession to goals and fall 2-1 to the Portland Timbers at home. Through twenty-eight games, Austin sits in second place in the Western Conference, still 6 points behind LAFC with seven games to play.
For the sixth straight match, Austin FC played the same starting 11. Our newest signing, Emiliano Rigoni, made the bench for the first time in Austin FC colors.
The two-hour wait for kickoff must have pent up some energy in both teams. The first fifteen minutes were frantic. Ethan Finlay forced a save from the Timbers keeper on a headed effort from eight yards out. Shortly after, Alex Ring hit the crossbar with a header of his own. Ruben Gabrielsen then cleared a shot off the line, preventing what should have been the game’s first goal.
However, Portland would convert in the sixteenth minute. Alex Ring gave away a free kick just outside the Austin penalty area. The in-swinging free kick found the head of an unmarked Bill Tuiloma. Austin 0-1 Portland.
The rest of the first half was end-to-end. Both teams had success with through balls in behind the opposing defense. In particular, Finlay and Portland’s Dairon Asprilla had multiple free runs in the space behind the defense lines.
Austin’s best chance feel to Sebastián Driussi, who could not find the target on his headed effort. Austin enjoyed the majority of possession and looked like scoring on several occasions but could never put together the final pass or shot.
Portland found loads of success with crosses to the back post. Tuiloma managed to work his way into marked by Nick Lima or Jon Gallagher, leading to free headers or crosses across the face of goal. Austin did well to avoid conceding a second goal, clearing yet another shot off the line late in the first half.
The worst news for Austin in the first half was Maxi Urruti coming off in stoppage time. He limped off the field and appeared to be holding his hamstring. Hopefully, his knock is not something that will keep him out too long. Half time: Austin 0-1 Portland.
Austin began the second half on the front foot and looking to be the side more likely to score. Driussi hit the crossbar just ten minutes in. Portland looked to slow the game down with fouls and delaying restarts, which was effective in halting Austin’s momentum.
Portland would take advantage and double their lead in the 73rd minute. Eryk Williamson beat Nick Lima on the left wing and tried to find the lower left corner of the net. Brad Stuver turned this effort away, but the rebound fell to Zac McGraw who tapped it in. Austin 0-2 Portland.
Austin would hit back almost immediately. Ring found Felipe in the penalty area and then continued his run towards the goal line. Felipe acted as though he wanted to find Ring, but instead swiveled and hit a low cross to the penalty spot. Driussi, seemingly always in the right spot, headed the cross towards the near post and into the back of the net! Austin 1-2 Portland.
Austin had a few chances to even things up late, but nothing the troubled the Portland keep too much.
Final Score: Austin FC 1, Portland 2.
Next up, Austin FC travel to Tennessee to take on Nashville SC on Saturday, September 3rd. Nashville are in 5th place in the Western Conference, with 42 points after twenty-nine matches.
Breaking Down the Low Block
Austin has struggled to break down the low block this year when opposing teams really settle in. Out of possession, Portland played with five players along the defensive line, and their three midfielders also dropped back into the penalty area. This effectively blocked shooting lanes. The result was not quite the so-called Horseshoe of Sadness we witnessed last season, but the result was much the same – 26 shots, only 5 on goal.
Emiliano Rigoni’s First Minutes
Emiliano Rigoni got his first minutes for Austin FC, playing the final half hour. He lacked the match sharpness required to make a huge difference (which is to be expected considering he has only been in Austin for ten days). However, his potential in this side could be huge. Finlay is making Josh Wolff’s job difficult with another solid performance, but we cannot complain with having options in the attack.
We have to wait to clinch a Playoff berth
Results near the playoff line went our way, LA Galaxy drew and Seattle lost. The Seattle loss meant a win tonight would have clinched a playoff berth for Austin. Although frustrating not to capitalize, it seems only a matter of time. We have a tough match away at Nashville this weekend, but a positive result combined with dropped points by Portland, LA Galaxy, or Vancouver could see us clinch over the weekend.
Goal Scoring Summary
- 79’ – Sebastián Driussi (Felipe Martins)
- 16’ – Bill Tuiloma (Eryk Williamson)
- 73’ – Zac McGraw (unassisted)
Man of the Match
Tonight’s Man of the Match is Daniel Pereira. He was solid in the midfield, and cut out multiple dangerous looking counter-attacks.
Cover Photo Credit: Austin FC Instagram