With a quarterfinal berth on the line (and an opportunity to host the Houston Crynamo in a knockout tournament), Austin FC’s first-ever meeting with the Chicago Fire resulted in a frustrating 2-0 defeat.
The first half was marred by sloppy passes, poor touches, and dumb giveaways. If I wasn’t a passionate fan, just a neutral, it would have been tough to keep watching.
But even through my verde-colored lenses, I was enraged at how porous our defense was, and how many times they let Brad Stuver get peppered with shots.
For as many as he kept out, Chicago’s first goal was a result of him being caught out of position and slow to react to a slow floating header. Maybe he thought it was going wide? We didn’t get a chance to ask him after the game.
It was so bad, that Coach Wolff made the rare move of two halftime substitutions — though one was forced by an apparent injury suffered by Leo Väisänen, our new CB signing.
Having said that, the story going into halftime may have been much different if either of Julio Cascante’s two stoppage time headers had gone in the back of the net.
But they didn’t, and that was really the story of the match, because the chances would continue to come even more frequently in the second half… and they’d end up being wasted just the same.
502 total passes leading to 9 total shots (only two on goal) is not only wasteful but an exercise in futility.
Even though the Verde boys never gave up, and fought hard to the bitter end, the game was pretty much over in the 77th minute when a couple of bad mental errors by Julio Cascante led to the second Chicago Fire goal, scored by Kacper Przybyłko and assisted by Xherdan Shaqiri (BTW, does this set the US Open Cup record for names with the greatest variety of consonants involved in a goal).
Austin FC fought desperately in the last 15 minutes to get a breakthrough goal that could have created a chance at overtime, but it all ended up being fruitless. The ref didn’t offer any relief either, turning a blind eye to foul after a foul by the Chicago Fire.
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I should have waited until the morning to cool off and better compose my thoughts and analysis. But we Capital City Soccer writers don’t get paid (we do it just for the love of the team and our city), and tomorrow’s a full day, so you’re getting my off-the-cuff reaction to tonight’s game.
I feel let down. When I think about all the other supporters who came out on a weeknight — a work night — and how they expended way more than I did (their money, their sweat, their vocal cords, and the pain of cramping muscles and joints later tonight and tomorrow morning) it irks me that the team came out flat-footed when a trophy was on the line.
They just got outplayed and outcoached.
It should not have happened.
Austin FC has some of the best fans in the whole US Open Cup competition (you’ll definitely see and hear the difference when Chicago hosts the next round), and us fans deserved a better performance tonight. PERIOD.