Austin FC kicked off its second season in style Saturday night with its biggest win to date, slamming FC Cincinnati in a 5-0 shutout iin front of thousands of faithful fans at Q2 Stadium.
The win broke records across the board —the club scored five goals in a match for the first time ever and made history with the biggest win margin of any MLS opening match to date. And even in dreary 40 degree weather, over 20,000 Verde fans showed their passion with yet another sold-out match, marking the longest streak of sold-out games in MLS history.
After a pregame that saw part-owner Matthew McConaughey cheer on the crowd as the stands slowly filled with fans, the club sprinted out of the gate with a goal from Cecilio Dominguez less than two minutes in to kick off the match.
What a way to start our @MLS Home Opener!
Cecilio Domínguez wasted no time on this one. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/z7YmZckMHL
— Austin FC (@AustinFC) February 26, 2022
Four more Austin goals and plenty of beer showers followed as Captain Alex Ring, big-money forward Sebastian Driussi and Dominguez each got points on the board.
The club was relentless as it cruised into the win—with just two minutes left in the match, Austin's Moussa Djitte rubbed the win in as he forced an own goal on the FC Cincinnati keeper to seal the 5-0 match.
Here are the top three takeaways from the first match of the season:
No longer the new kids
Austin FC's first win of the season did more than make the history books.
Emerging from a first season full of growing pains, the team's message was clear: the Verde and Black are no longer the new kids on the MLS block, and the club is making sure it won't get overlooked again on its home turf.
After months of head coach Josh Wolff and Austin players saying they want to make Q2 Stadium a "home fortress," it looks like the club is putting its money where its mouth is.
A sunny confidence was reflected on each player's face as goal after goal was scored on a stumbling Cincinnati. It's a stark contrast from this time last season, when the team struggled to get a single point on the board, let alone five, in its first home matches.
The mental game of scoring can be nearly as tough as the physical act, and Wolff said the win will help boost confidence and morale for players, like Dominguez, who couldn't find their footing early last season.
Wolff's birthday wish comes true
Wolff's birthday gift may not have come with a gift box or bow this year, but the head coach, who celebrated his birthday Friday, might have gotten something even better.
Any win to start a season was a must for Wolff and the team after a nine-win first season, and the record-smashing 5-0 shutout only makes it more triumphant. Add into that a sold-out crowd of passionate supporters and you've got a recipe sweeter than birthday cake.
But the real win for Wolff comes into the way the team played together Saturday night. Wolff's complex style of play was hated and discredited by some last season as the team often failed to look like a cohesive group.
Even with newcomers like Ruben Gabrielsen, who arrived just a week ago, and young players like Kipp Keller at starting center back, the club played as smoothly as ever. Austin kept Wolff's possession-heavy style, holding the ball 56.7% of the match, as each player expertly bounced passes around Cincinnati defenders and into the net
Almost every goal was the result of seamless teamwork—from Ring's tricky passbacks to Diego Fagundez's tricky assist that gave Driussi a wide-open goal.
Wolff has promised a playoff-level team this season. And while it's too soon to tell, this match hinted that patience may have been the key to his vision.
Austin FC good or Cincinnati bad?
Austin FC undisputably earned its 5-0 win Saturday night, but it's tough to say whether FC Cincinnati helped them reach such a lofty win.
FC Cincinnati looked flustered from the start in the match, especially as they tried to bounce back from a goal just two minutes in. The team mustered just four wins to finish last in the MLS' Eastern Conference last season, giving up at least five goals in four matches in the process.
Would the game have looked any different if Austin had played a higher-ranked team.
While Cincinnati's own errors led to at least one goal in the game, Austin fought to keep its net clean, blocking seven shots and saving two to get the shutout win. And the team looked nearly evenly matched when comparing last season's stats—Austin was second to last in the West last season.
It's too soon to tell whether Austin FC has drastically improved. But even if Cincinnati falls to the bottom of the pack once more, the 5-0 win will armor Austin with both clout and confidence as it delves deeper into its second season.
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Flyers are less satisfied with the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport than a year ago, a new study shows.
Research firm J.D. Power placed ABIA at No. 15 on a list ranking overall customer satisfaction at large airports, a slip from last year’s spot at No. 7. Other Texas airports secured rankings ahead of Austin, with Dallas Love Field at third, Houston Hobby at eight, and San Antonio International Airport at ninth.
Dallas/Ft. Worth ranked eight in the "mega airport" category.
The study examined airports based on the following factors: terminal facilities; airport arrival/departure; baggage claim; security check; check-in/baggage check; and food, beverage and retail.
On a 1,000-point scale, Austin-Bergstrom received 785 points this year compared to its score of 819 in 2021.
Passenger experiences at Austin-Bergstrom have been influenced by population growth in Central Texas, which has brought record traffic and longer wait times at TSA. And a recent power outage at Austin-Bergstrom caused flight delays. Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power., said that consumer satisfaction with flying has decreased overall.
“The combination of pent-up demand for air travel, the nationwide labor shortage and steadily rising prices on everything from jet fuel to a bottle of water have created a scenario in which airports are extremely crowded and passengers are increasingly frustrated—and it is likely to continue through 2023,” Taylor said.
Bailey Grimmett, a spokesperson for ABIA, commented on the ranking.
“We're grateful that AUS customers continue to rank our airport above average, especially during this year that saw air travel disruption here in Austin and across the globe as airports, airlines and the air travel industry continued navigating the impacts of the pandemic,” Grimmett said. “We look forward to delivering near-term and long-term improvements through our Journey With AUS program to improve the passenger experience.”
That program is slated to bring a new midfield concourse to increase gates and connect to the Barbara Jordan Terminal through an underground connector tunnel.
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By Jonathan Lee
The Planning Commission was split Tuesday on whether to help save an eclectic lakefront estate from demolition by zoning it historic amid concerns over tax breaks and the likelihood that a previous owner participated in segregation as a business owner.
The property in question, known as the Delisle House, is located at 2002 Scenic Drive in Tarrytown. The main house, with Spanish and Modern influences, was built in 1923 by Raymond Delisle, an optician. A Gothic Revival accessory apartment was built in 1946. The current owner applied to demolish the structures in order to build a new home.'
Historic preservationists, for their part, overwhelmingly support historic zoning, which would preserve the buildings in perpetuity. The Historic Landmark Commission unanimously voted to initiate historic zoning in July, citing architectural significance, landscape features and association to historic figures. City staffers recommend historic zoning, calling both structures one-of-a-kind examples of vernacular architecture.
Tarrytown neighbors have also banded together to stop the demolition. Many have written letters, and a few spoke at the meeting. “How could anyone buy this property with the intent of destroying it?” Ila Falvey said. “I think it’s an architectural treasure.”
Michael Whellan, an attorney representing the property owner, said that the claims made by preservationists are shaky. The buildings are run down, he said, and have had substantial renovations. A structural engineer hired by the owner said any attempt at preservation would involve tearing down and rebuilding – an undertaking Whellan said would likely cost millions.
Whellan also argued that any historical significance derived from the property’s association with Delisle and longtime owner C.H. Slator is dubious. “These men are not noted for any civic, philanthropic or historic impact,” he said.
What’s more, according to Whellan, Slator likely participated in segregation as the owner of the Tavern on North Lamar Boulevard between 1953 and 1960.
A city staffer, however, said she found no evidence to support the claim. “We would never landmark a property where a segregationist lived, or there was a racist person,” Kimberly Collins with the Historic Preservation Office said.
Commissioner Awais Azhar couldn’t support historic zoning in part due to lingering uncertainty about Slator. “Focusing on that factor is not here to disparage an individual or family. It is not about playing the race card. This is an important assertion for us to consider as Planning commissioners,” Azhar said.
Commissioner Carmen Llanes Pulido said that allegations of racism should come as no surprise. “We’re talking about white male property owners in the 1950s, in Austin, on the west side – and of course they were racist,” she said. But she argued that allowing the house to be demolished based on these grounds does nothing to help people of color who have been harmed by racism and segregation.
The question of tax breaks was also controversial. Michael Gaudini, representing the property owner, said that the tax breaks associated with historic zoning would exacerbate inequality by shifting property tax burdens to less affluent communities. City staffers estimate that the property, appraised at $3.5 million, would get either a $8,500 or $16,107 property tax break annually, depending on whether a homestead exemption is applied.
Commissioner Grayson Cox preferred the commission focus not on tax breaks but on whether the structures merit preservation. “To me, nothing in the historic preservation criteria lists, is this person deserving of a tax break or not?”
Azhar, on the other hand, said he plans to propose a code amendment getting rid of city property tax breaks for historic properties.
The commission fell one vote short of recommending historic zoning, with six commissioners in support and three opposed. Azhar and commissioners Claire Hempel and Greg Anderson voted against.
The odds of City Council zoning over an owner’s wishes are slim. Nine out of 11 members must vote in favor, and there have only been a handful of such cases over the past several decades.