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What did Josh Wolff say at halftime?
Whatever changes the Austin FC head coach made, it worked: Austin FC transformed a stumbling first half into an adrenaline-fueled 3-1 victory for their first-ever MLS win against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night.
While Austin FC fans, many of whom were in Denver to see the match first-hand, were hoping for the club's first goal, they weren't expecting the explosive 10-minute stretch that saw Diego Fagundez make history and Cecilio Dominguez get a chance at a hat trick.
After a flat first half, it was Fagundez who realized the club's first-ever goal as he snuck one in behind Rapids GK William Yarborough to hit the bottom left corner. Newbie Daniel Pereira, who shone in his second professional appearance, brought an impressive drive up the pitch to log the club's first assist.
THIS. RIGHT. HERE.
History for our Club. History for the ATX. pic.twitter.com/FepuI4pgVx
— Austin FC (@AustinFC) April 25, 2021
Before anyone could catch their breath, Dominguez showed the crowd why he wears the No. 10 jersey as he joined Fagundez with the game-winning goal. Dominguez confidently knocked one in in the 67th minute of play, sprinting off the pitch and jumping into the arms of his teammates on the bench. The club had secured its first lead in its short history. For once, La Murga's instruments were silent as they too joined into the celebratory roar.
Wolff said that Dominguez was a driving factor in the club's momentous win.
"I think that energy became contagious around the field," Wolff said. "And most of that was driven by Cecilio, he came in and really gave a good impact to kick off the second half and that bled into everything."
But one goal wasn't enough for Dominguez, who returned once again to the opposite corner to drive in another for the team four minutes later. He may have upped the score to 3-1, but more importantly, Dominguez and Fagundez had hit the gas and let the Rapids know that they weren't letting up.
The final whistle blew, and Austin FC took their first victory 3-1.
Wolff said it was satisfying to see the club reach their full potential.
"Once we had a bit of momentum, I think it was clear as to as to what we were capable of doing," Wolff said. "And a lot of credit goes to the players, they worked their butts off and got everything they deserve."
The #denVERDE crew may be leaving the Dick's Sporting Goods Stadium with smiles on their faces tonight, but it didn't seem like the match would go the Verde way in the first half.
In a last-minute lineup change, Austin FC's DP Tomas Pochettino was very suddenly benched due to a request by the MLS, with the league citing issues in registration as the reason for their request.
Defender Matt Besler, another starter, was out due to the birth of his son, and Rodney Redes was swapped for Jared Stroud as the club switched into a 4-4-2 format.
Welcome to the world Miller James Besler 💙 4/23/21. Can't wait to bring you home to meet your sisters. #BeslerFamilyof5 #FOE pic.twitter.com/WZH3ikfGH8
— Matt Besler (@MattBesler) April 25, 2021
Despite the mysterious changes, Austin FC appeared to be off to a good start against the Rapids, who were also looking for their first goal of the season.
LB Ben Sweat was helping lead good charges at both wings, sending up crosses that threatened Rapids GK William Yarborough. However, after fending off an attack from forward Michael Barrios, Sweat suffered what appeared to be a knee injury. Twenty-one-year-old Zan Kolmanic took to the pitch and continued where Sweat left off, but his crosses weren't enough to aid a team that was lacking in communication and struggling to make plays in the final third.
Rapids forward Andre Shinyashiki capitalized on the club's discomfort and sent in a signature set piece to make Colorado's first goal of the season in the 36th minute of play.
Austin FC was unable to answer or even get a shot on target until the 45th minute of play, when Pereira made an attempt that gave the club just enough hope to formulate a rallying cry at halftime.
Three goals later, Austin FC left their second-ever match with a win—and the attention of the entire MLS. But the club still needs to work on cohesion and consistent attacks before its members can let in a collective sigh of relief.
"It's a momentous occasion for the city and for this organization," Wolff said. "Moments of the game were up and down, but they grinded. A lot of good feelings right now. A lot of firsts and we'll continue those throughout the year."
Now, it's time for celebration, but the club will need to keep that energy as they plan for another road match against Minnesota FC on Saturday, May 1.
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A week after Texas added two congressional seats and California lost one, state officials reported a population decline in 2020 for the first time in the Golden State's history.
California fell by over 182,000 people from January 2020 to January 2021, dropping almost 0.5% to cap out at around 39.5 million people. It is still the nation's most populous state.
For over thirty years, California has seen more people leave than move in from other states, state officials said, with 6.1 million people moving out and 4.9 million coming in last year. Immigration and births kept California growing, but the state saw a shrink in international migration in 2020 due to COVID and the White House's hold on visas.
Of the steady flow of ex-Californians moving to other states, more are moving to Texas than any other state. Many are relocating to Austin, which has been labeled a "little California" by billionaire resident Elon Musk and continues to grow astronomically.
Meanwhile, California cities including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco saw a population decline.
With immigration and state migration on the decline, the Golden State was also hit with a spike in deaths- 51,000 people died from COVID in 2020, and all but seven of the state's counties saw death rates higher than the three-year average.
Still, the California Department of Finance said a "slightly positive annual growth" can be expected next year as the state recovers from COVID deaths and political repercussions.
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