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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Timmy and Tommy are ready to play.
As the 2-month-old white-and-tabby brothers swat feather wands, chase toys and generally hold court inside Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, a half-dozen potential adoptive parents look on lovingly, trying to get their attention.
“This is kind of like the speed dating of cats,” said Lupita Foster, owner of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge. “I intentionally didn’t put in any tables. That’s why we call it a lounge instead of a cat café because we have these lounge areas where you can sit and relax and cuddle.”
Foster, who has owned a cleaning company, Enviromaids, for 18 years, was inspired to open Purr-fecto Cat Lounge after adopting her own cat, Romeo, from a local shelter.
“When you want to adopt a cat, you have to spend a lot of time with them to get their personality,” Foster said. “I wanted to do something to help the community and something that makes me feel good, that warms my heart. A business with a purpose. This was a perfect idea.”
Actually, a purr-fect idea.
Inspired in part by a cat lounge she visited in Los Angeles, Foster began laying the groundwork for the business in late 2021 and officially opened the doors of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, located at 2300 S. Lamar Blvd., in July 2022. Since then, she’s worked with rescue organizations such as Fuzzy Texan Animal Rescue and Sunshine Fund Cat Rescue to facilitate nearly 100 cat adoptions.
At any given time, there are 10-15 cats living in the space, which features an ideal blend of calm, cool corners and adorably Instagrammable backdrops with phrases such as “I want to spend all my 9 lives with you.”
Lina Martinez, 32, learned about Purr-fecto Cat Lounge from a friend’s Instagram post and made an appointment to visit two days later.
“My first impression was, ‘AWW!’” Martinez said. “The kittens were to die for. I felt happy and at peace – just what I needed.”
Visitors to the cat lounge pay $15 for a 30-minute CATXperience session or $30 for a 70-minute session that is spent getting to know the personalities of each cat. Foster said the first thing she typically sees from visitors to the lounge is a smile.
“Everybody that enters the door is smiling,” she said. “And we’ve seen people who have cried because they can’t have kids and they decide to go and adopt a cat instead.”
Foster said she loves bringing in cats who might not have a chance to be adopted at traditional shelters. She told the story of one cat named Izzy, who was partially blind, who was adopted by a family that had a deaf cat at home.
“Izzy was not going to get adopted anywhere else, but she’s extremely beautiful,” she said. “If she was in a cage in a rescue and you tell people she’s blind, she was probably going to be overlooked. But visiting our space, she doesn’t seem like she’s blind. She knows her way around. She moves around perfectly.”
Although Martinez, who had been casually looking for a pet to adopt since moving to Austin nearly four years ago, was interested in a cat named Ruby that she had seen on Purr-fecto’s social media, at the lounge she instead found herself drawn to 5-month-old mixed breed Tuxedo cat.
“I thought he was a star,” she said. “He worked the room and introduced himself to everyone. When I laid down to pet Ruby, he ran from the other side of the room and cuddled with me. It was game over. He got me.”
And she, of course, got him, complete with a commemorative photo that read “My Furrever Family” the day she took him home. Although his original name was Emmanuel, she renamed him Sullivan after her favorite DJ.
“Purr-fecto is special because of the amount of effort and love they put into taking care of the cats,” Martinez said, “and finding them good homes and making possible adopters feel at home.”
Foster, who spent a recent Thursday hosting a group of teenagers in foster care at the lounge, several of whom expressed interest in working there, said the best part about her new endeavor is that her heart is always full.
“I just feel complete,” she said. “I always felt as an entrepreneur that I was missing something. I knew I accomplished a lot, but in my heart I was missing a little connection with the community. Now I’m creating connections between humans and pets and that’s amazing. I’m creating family bonds. It’s just about love, you know. And we need that.”
We all have those cravings for an amazing butter chicken or some authentic dosas with coconut chutney, but when I was thinking about where I wanted to go to satisfy my taste buds I realized that my list of great Indian food around Austin was surprisingly short. After doing some research and asking around, here is your list of the best Indian restaurants around town.
This restaurant claims to have the most authentic South Indian food, and from what I've heard, the claims might be true! Their menu features the traditional South Indian dishes of Idlis, Vadas, a variety of Dosas, and more.
If you're looking for an Indian and Tex-Mex fusion cozy restaurant, then look no further! Nasha on East 7th Street prides itself on its specialty margaritas, Tikka con Queso, Biryani, and more creative dishes!