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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The original Z’Tejas location on West 6th Street is closing its doors after more than 30 years on the lot to make way for new development.
Z'Tejas owner Randy Cohen told Austonia the restaurant will be open at least through the end of 2022, possibly through March 2023.
Cohen said the owners—Larry McGuire of McGuire Moorman Lambert Hospitality—of the land have something new planned, though he’s not exactly sure what. Additionally, Cohen said maintenance costs for the old building were becoming prohibitively expensive.
“I think the people who own the dirt will tear it all down and build condos or some other development,” Cohen said. “I mean, it's a 60-year-old building, Z'Tejas has been here for 33 years and before that, it was something else. So it's just progress, that's all."
The restaurant isn’t going away though—Cohen said Z’Tejas is already looking for a new spot in the downtown area to move into. Z’Tejas also has a location in Avery Ranch, another in the works for Kyle and two in Arizona.
“We have all our ducks in a row right now and the management team is all rowing in the right direction,” Cohen said. “We're just excited, we're excited to build this iconic brand back.”
Once he finds a new place, Cohen plans to bring along its mural, “The Last Zupper,” which features Willie Nelson, Matthew McConaughey and Barbara Jordan. Cohen also plans for the adjoining ghost kitchen, Woo Woo Burgers, to follow to the new downtown location.
“We're still booking events through the end of December,” Cohen said. “Come ‘Z' me at Z’Tejas, we'd love to see you before we’re gone.”
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Two towers could be coming just south of the Austin American-Statesman’s former headquarters in the South Central Waterfront district.
According to city filings, the proposed planned unit development agreement is set for 200 East Riverside Drive, an area Project Connect’s Blue Line is slated to pass by someday.
Carrying this out involves removing the existing building, which is a state office complex and surface parking.
The new towers in place would reach just over 400 feet at their maximum and include office space and space for retail on the ground level. The mix of office and retail is a trend that’s been cropping up in downtown sites like the Perennial and the Meta tower.
The proposal on a plot of about four acres aims to incorporate green infrastructure and create a lively environment for pedestrians. It’d also be adjacent to the 118-acres of the South Central Waterfront Initiative, which is aimed at enhancing connections to and along the waterfront over the next couple of decades.
The filing lists architects STG Design, a group involved with work on the sailboat-like Google tower.
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