One could say that the hero of Austin FC's 3-2 comeback win wasn't one of the team's three goalscorers. Instead, the hundreds of fans who flew from Austin to D.C. for their team found an unlikely martyr in an inflatable rubber chicken.
Dressed in his own Austin FC jersey and painted in the team's signature Verde hue, "Pollo FC" has been seen swinging above the Austin FC supporters' section since last season. But it wasn't until he was confiscated, and later freed, by D.C. United security shortly before a three-goal Austin FC comeback that his name became synonymous with sweet Verde victories.
Since his mouth is stuck in a permanent "O," Pollo's thoughts were interpreted through Trevor Blow as he took a break from the crowd at the San Antonio FC match to talk about the origins of the club's favorite chicken.
Pollo FC can be seen alongside his keeper, Trevor Blow, at just about every Austin FC game. (Austin FC/Twitter)
"It started as just a drunk idea...I thought it would be around for like a day or two, but people kept loving it," Blow said. "It really just drew the best, childlike nature out of people."
Easier to spot than Bigfoot (feet?) or the Loch Ness Monster, but often just as mystical, Austin FC "cryptids" like Pollo FC are multiplying in the Austin stands with that same agenda in mind.
Drawing from a cryptid of wintry legend, Austin FC's "Meh Teh," which is another word for Yeti, isn't sure if he'll hibernate for the sweltering Texas summer since this "isn't the natural environment for a Yeti." But the man behind the furry mask but had a more straightforward answer for his motives.
Austin FC's "Mei Tei" is far from his wintry home but still shows up to each Austin FC match. (Claire Partain/Austonia)
"I love the game, I love the team," "Figured I'd show up in a Yeti suit."
Like Mei Tai, fellow Austin FC cryptid Verdiloko dons his Verde and Black mask (and cape) each week for more than just himself.
"I'm not just Verdiloko, I'm a voice," Verdiloko said. "I'm the voice of every single fan in the stadium, the voice of passion and love for the team."
Austin FC's Verdiloko is a self-proclaimed voice for the team's fans. (Claire Partain/Austonia)
Aside from embodying the team's jersey sponsor YETI, Meh Teh has found a purpose in posing for pictures with young Verde supporters.
"It's fun for other fans, it's fun for little kids," Meh Teh said. "That's what it's all about."
Each cryptid has also gained a presence on social media. Ever the philanthropist, El Pollo has used that newfound fame to do more than change the results of Austin FC games; all proceeds for his stickers and merch go to local animal shelter Austin Pets Alive!
"There was a significant momentum change as soon as he got freed," Blow said. "He's become legend."
Despite a 2-0 deficit, there was a pot of gold for Austin FC after all as it celebrated its annual Pride Night with rainbows and a 2-2 comeback draw to FC Dallas Saturday night.
After three FC Dallas losses last season, the Dallas derby draw marks the first time Austin FC has tied against its Copa Texas rival. Austin continues to edge over FC Dallas as it sits at 3rd in the MLS West.
Here are the biggest takeaways from the match:
A somber start
Decked out in colorful hues for LBGTQ+ Pride, Verde fans started the match on a somber note as they held up banners to take a stand against gun violence before the match.
As the national anthem began, fans held up banners with the names of each child that was killed in the Uvalde school shooting and a plea to "end gun violence."
The supporters' section was also dotted with Pride flags and a "Bans off Our Bodies" banner in protest of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
FC Dallas earns a 2-0 lead
That sober tone continued onto the pitch. With midfielder Daniel Pereira's absence due to a red card, the Verde and Black lost two goals to FC Dallas by the 70th minute of play.
FC Dallas played it sneaky for the first half of the match, giving Austin FC plenty of room to hold possession as it waited to strike on a Verde error. That mentality proved dangerous for Austin as Dallas' Paul Arriola took advantage of Brad Stuver's deflection to score the first goal of the night in the 57th minute of play.
Dallas struck once more as Brandon Servant pushed past the Verde line to score the second goal of the match.
Austin FC strikes back
But energy quickly returned to Austin's favor thanks to Designated Player Sebastian Driussi, who scooted past several FC Dallas defenders alongside Moussa Djitte to snag an unlikely first goal for Austin.
A full Verde comeback
Austin's subs proved deadly as momentum returned to the home team toward the end of the match. A well-placed cross from Nick Lima—and a diving header from a fresh-legged Danny Hoesen—helped the team secure the draw with a second Verde goal in the 84th minute of play.
Hoesen, who was Austin's first starting striker last season, has now scored two goals with the team after a yearlong injury stuck him on the bench.
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Hours following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that guaranteed a constitutional right to an abortion, on Friday, about 1,000 people gathered in Republic Square with signs calling for change.
The rally, organized by the group Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights Texas, started at the federal courthouse on Republic Square on Friday at 5 p.m. before the crowd marched to the Texas Capitol. More protests are expected to ensue over the weekend.
People showed up with all types of signs like Mindy Moffa holding up, "Keep your filthy laws off my silky drawers."
Austin joined cities across the country that saw protests for a women's right to an abortion after the ruling.
According to a recent UT poll, 78% of Texas voters support abortion access in most cases.
Sabrina Talghade and Sofia Pellegrini held up signs directed at Texas laws. A Texas trigger law will ban all abortions from the moment of fertilization, starting 30 days after the ruling. When state legislators passed the trigger law last summer, it also passed laws for more protection of firearms, including the right to open carry without a permit.
Lili Enthal of Austin yells as around 1,000 Texans marched to the Texas Capitol.
From the Texas Capitol, Zoe Webb lets her voice be heard against the Supreme Court ruling.
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