Austin FC hosted a 2-2 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes Saturday night. While it wasn’t a win that the team and fanbase desperately wanted, this is a step in the right direction after the Verde and Black were coming off a scoring drought that ended up reaching 400 minutes before Emiliano Rigoni put it into the back of the net in the 40th minute.
The Starting XI was interesting as Josh Wolff decided to start Rodney Redes over Ethan Finlay, Jhojan Valencia for Owen Wolff, and most controversial was Adam Lundkvist instead of our leading goal scorer and engine on that backline Jon Gallagher.
Photo courtesy Apple TV
Who Is Stepping Up?
I am starting with a player who has finally gotten out of my Dropping Off category and made it all the way to the Stepping Up category as he scored his first goal in an Austin FC kit. Emiliano Rigoni gave a good performance as he finished his chance delivered in the box by Rodney Redes. This goal puts to death his run of games without a goal contribution in MLS play.
Rigoni did miss some chances later in the match as he sailed a shot to the verde faithful, and missed a wide open Gyasi Zardes. If he would have connected on either of those chances, he would undoubtedly be my Man of the Match.
But, now that Rigoni has broken the streak and scored. Do you think more will come? Did the dam break? Or will he continue to not be a reliable goal contributor for this team?
The next player that needs to be celebrated is Rodney Redes. Redes is a player we have been noting has looked good in his limited opportunities prior to tonight. And he continued that as a lot of the offensive game was running through him.
He got his assist as Dani Pereira delivered a beautiful ball to him and he looked up to find Rigoni in the box for the equalizing goal in the 40th minute. This was the best performance we have seen out of Rodney in an Austin FC uniform and for that he deserves a spot in the Stepping Up category.
Pereira looked good as always tonight. He was pushing up, finding the open man, and delivered the great ball that led to the Redes-Rigoni connection. He did make a mistake as he gave up a ball that led to the second San Jose goal, but overall a delight to watch and a great player for this club.
Sebastian Driussi also returned to the scoresheet as he scored the second equalizer for ATXFC. The goal came in the 78th minute after Leo Väisänen delivered a header that was batted down right to Driussi’s feet for an easy goal.
Hopefully this goal will get Driussi back on track and keep him as a constant threat for Austin FC.
Who Is Dropping Off?
I am happy to report that this category is actually harder for me to assess this week than the Stepping Up category. In recent weeks it was a reach to be optimistic.
Still a glaring issue is the lack of production at the striker position. In an ideal world your strikers are constant goal threats. I don’t feel that is true for this team with Maxi Urruti and Gyasi Zardes. Urruti has just seven shots this season, three of those on target, and only one scored which came at the end of the Montreal game in early March.
Zardes who was the starting striker to begin the season, hasn’t looked any more productive than Maxi with his minutes. He has only eight shots with just two on target. And of course, he has zero goals so far this season.
The lack of goals and goal scoring chances was evident Saturday night as it has been all season. This team needs someone new up at the front. If that is Moussa Djitte returning from loan or going out and finding a striker in the summer transfer window, something needs to change.
A substitution was made at half to bring on Jon Gallagher for Adam Lundkvist. Lundkvist hasn’t done anything to set him apart as someone who should get consistent minutes for this club. The team is better with Gally back there. I am not sure why Coach decided to sit Jon to start the match, but playing Lundy is a liability in the back as we have seen him make mistakes this season.
In the Houston game they bring him on and he immediately gets a handball in the box. On Saturday night, he had what looked to be like a penalty not called as he took down a San Jose attacker in the box early on.
It wasn’t called, but his lack of awareness and skill can be troublesome at times.
It should be interesting to see how this team changes over the next few matches. We should be getting Julio Cascante back next match. Do they go back to the traditional backline and move Alex Ring up? When will we see Aleksandar Radovanović get some minutes?
I think with Rigoni and Driussi scoring plus getting Cascante back could provide a foundation for this team to build off of in coming matches. Let’s hope so!
Austin FC travels to take on the Portland Timbers at Providence Park on Saturday at 9:30. Will Austin get their first win ever in Portland (or even their first points). Let us know what you think in the comments below.