Austin FC looked to bounce back after an embarrassing road loss to St. Louis with a match at FC Dallas with the Copa Tejas Trophy on the line.
Plenty of the Verde faithful made the trip, and plenty went home disappointed, as Austin was just seconds away from coming home with a draw when they gave up a goal in the dying seconds as they were down to 10 men to lose 1-0.
The lineup was interesting, as Josh Wolff didn’t play a natural striker and had Sebastian Driussi starting up top. Another notable change was seeing Alex Ring back and starting in his natural position within the midfield.
Who Is Stepping Up?
I thought Alex Ring looked excellent back in the midfield. The possession and offense looked a little more dynamic with him back in his natural position.
The crazy thing is, we didn’t get to see it for a full 90 minutes, as Josh Wolff subbed him off in the 62nd minute. Ring stood out in the midfield at the time and was one of the few bright spots for the team up to that point.
I have zero idea why Coach Wolff didn’t take out Dani Pereira there, who was already sitting on a yellow, or at least Owen Wolff, who isn’t the same quality player that Ring is right now.
Dani has a history of accruing a second yellow after getting a previous one earlier; it looks like Coach Wolff again doesn’t learn from previous mistakes.
Brad Stuver had a nice bounce-back game, as he was able to get four saves in the box and keep it level at 0-0 for 20+ minutes with 10 men.
Was it a perfect Stuver match? No. But it was positive to see him do some good things following his poor performance in St. Louis.
Matt Hedges started alongside Julio Cascante in the back. Hedges, playing against his former team, honestly looked pretty good, as he looked comfortable playing out of the back and moving the ball upward.
Even given the solid performance, Hedges was a sore spot on the night, as videos circulated online of him walking off the pitch with an FC Dallas kit on.
I know it is customary to swap kits after matches, and he has a rich history with FC Dallas. But it put a poor taste in my mouth, as he hasn’t been here long at all, and the way they lost that match, it seems it would have been smarter to just put the kit around his shoulder and walk off.
Even the bright spots for Austin FC on the night seemed to get tainted by poor coaching and player decisions, which is very on-brand for this 2023 Austin FC season.
Save money on single match tickets through Austin FC’s official ticketing partner SeatGeek by using code CAPCITYSOCCER for $20 off your first purchase.
Who Is Dropping Off?
Dani Pereira needs to be smarter. We seem to get at least one of these matches a year from him where he makes reckless decisions, costing his team.
He is a great player given his abilities, but he needs to fix these mistakes and learn how to adjust when he gets the initial yellow.
Julio Cascante, coming off his worst performance in a Verde kit, doesn’t do much here to make you feel better about him being a starter at center back going forward for this team.
He was just two for seven on aerial duels throughout the night, and he looked to be ball-watching at the end as the header went in for the match winner.
Emiliano Rigoni returned to the starting lineup and didn’t do anything to make you believe that he should stay there. He looked invisible for much of the match, and when he didn’t, it was because he was delivering poor crosses.
Coach Wolff did take note and took him out in the 62nd minute. It should continue to be interesting to see how they use Rigoni going forward.
Adam Lundqvist came on in the 77th minute and did some good things, but it was hard to ignore in stoppage time when he had the ball in the corner and was time-wasting instead of trying to kick the ball off of a Dallas player to win a corner kick.
This moment for me was hard to watch, and I felt in my gut that it would come back to possibly cost us. And it did, as minutes later they watched the game-winner go in.
Austin FC is now in 9th place in the Western Conference and plays the Seattle Sounders at Q2 Stadium on Wednesday night at 7:30 (for now, it might get pushed back to 8:30 due to heat).
Do you think this team finds a way into the playoffs, or is this team going to continue to fall apart? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Images courtesy Apple TV