Austin FC did what many thought was doubtful — going to Lumen Field in Seattle and coming away with three points.
This broke Austin’s streak of eight consecutive games without a win. Their last win in MLS play came on the road in Salt Lake by the same 2-1 scoreline on March 11th.
They were able to build a surprising two goal lead before conceding a goal in the 79th minute. Brad Stuver and the defense was able to hold and come away with a 2-1 victory that maybe can start a string of positive outcomes for the Verde and Black.
There was two changes to the starting XI on Wednesday night from what we saw against FC Dallas. With Rodney Redes being out on suspension with a red card, Ethan Finlay got the nod in the attack. This raised some eyebrows, as some wanted Diego Fagundez to get the start. The decision to go with Finlay ended up paying off in the end.
The middle stayed unchanged, but Julio Cascante was ruled out due to concussion protocol, which meant we saw our first Aleksandar Radovanović start on the backline. Josh Wolff played a three CB backline pairing Radovanović with Leo Väisänen and Alex Ring.
With both Sebastian Driussi and Cascante out due to injury, Stuver wore the captain armband for the first time in his career with ATX.
Who Is Stepping Up?
With Ethan Finlay starting for the suspended Redes, he got his chance to impress and that he did. As he earned Man Of The Match Honors after scoring and assisting both Austin goals. He was making good runs and finding space throughout much of the game early, and in the 36th minute he received a pulled-back pass by Adam Lundqvist and hit a shot off his left foot to the bottom right corner.
This goal gave the momentum Austin needed early and felt like a real confidence boost for this team. You need these type of moments while on the road against the top team in the Western Conference to plant belief in not just coming away with a draw, but coming away with a win.
Lundqvist kept up with his impressive form as he got the assist to Finlay. Lundy looks like he is really settling in with the squad and game plan and looks to be a good fit for this team going forward.
One player who’s a regular on our Dropping Off list is Gyasi Zardes. There were moments early on in this game where he was having bad touches and was slow getting to the ball. But, he redeemed himself and earned a spot on the Stepping Up list when he doubled the lead on a beautiful header by an outstanding cross given by Finlay in the 57th minute.
Zardes finally gets his first goal in the 2023 campaign. This might help relieve some pressure of scoring his first goal with the team and get him on a track were we see him become more lethal up top.
Brad Stuver had some nice saves throughout the night and distributed the ball well out of the back to hold onto the 2-1 lead. His biggest save of the night was when Seattle’s Jordan Morris delivered a shot from the center of the box in the 84th minute, and Stu got his hand there to deflect it away.
I was impressed with Radovanović’s passing throughout the match. Especially as he delivered some deep passes right on point. He looks like a player that can fit Coach Wolff’s system very well.
Jhojan Valencia started again for Owen Wolff who is out on international duty. He was strong on defense in the midfield as he won five recoveries throughout the night on interceptions that led to Austin possession.
He has been growing in this team and playing well beside Dani Pereira. It was much needed, especially with the absence of Wolff and Driussi.
Alex Ring continued his consistent form. He had five clearances throughout the night and four interceptions. For a player who has played out of his original position, he keeps delivering good performances.
Who Is Dropping Off?
This is a welcomed surprise. I think everyone came in and played well in Seattle. Especially given the injuries and suspension.
If we want to be nit-picky, it was Will Bruin’s homecoming to Seattle. The striker came on for Austin in the 83rd minute for Zardes. In very limited minutes he had one real chance but lacked the speed to be able to capitalize.
He also picked up a yellow card in stoppage time as he was exaggerating contact in hopes of receiving a penalty against his former team.
Emiliano Rigoni I thought at times looked good and at other times would have liked to see him more active in attack. I definitely don’t think this was a bad performance from Rigoni at all.
We would just like to see our DP attacker produce goals and assists that seems to be lacking from him thus far.
Overall, a very well-played match by Austin FC and hopefully a sign of things to come.
They play their next match on Saturday at 7:30 as they host Toronto FC at Q2 Stadium. Will they get their first back-to-back wins since early March
Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Cover photo courtesy Apple TV