The MLS West Conference throne slipped from Austin FC's grasp as the club fell for the first time this season in a 1-0 loss at the Portland Timbers' rainy home fortress on Saturday.
Austin's 10-goal momentum was slashed in the match after a hard-fought 90 minutes complete with eight yellow cards, a fateful handball call and goalpost-hitting shots. But despite the scoreboard, this match may have been a better testament to Austin's new skillset than any game so far.
Here are three takeaways from Austin's first road match of the season:
Is Austin FC still legit?
Even with back-to-back five goal wins—which broke an MLS record—some league fans still questioned whether Austin FC is really the team it seems to be.
This loss might not silence all of the naysayers.
The club may have been blessed by the MLS scheduling gods, but they were in for a real test for their first road match. Away games have always been Austin's weak spot—the club won just two road matches last season, while Portland gave up just four losses at its home fortress.
It didn't help that the game was cold and wet, making for a slippery surface on the Timbers' artificial turf. And fans may rag on the ref after every sporting event ever, but there were some fateful calls—or lack thereof—that could have directly contributed to the end result.
Either way, the match goes down as the first loss in Austin FC's 2022 schedule. But this is not yet a tale of two seasons—unlike the club's scorelessness and nine-game losing streak on the road last season, Austin FC showed grit and poise through most of the match, controlling possession and ping-ponging back and forth with swift, (mostly) accurate passing strategy.
Already three goals in, Austin's Sebastian Driussi was guarded hard alongside Captain Alex Ring, leaving the team with a weaker front end that couldn't quite finish. And while the club was lacking in the final third, it showed that second-season confidence up front that nearly led to a goal before another would-be Driussi goal was called offsides in the 32nd minute.
Even though the club may continue to be chronically underestimated—perhaps rightfully so this week—Austin FC did not leave this match without a good fight.
Defense—and depth—make the difference
After taking the backseat in Austin's first five-goal wins, the Verde and Black back line shone in the club's first road match.
Zan Kolmanic and Nick Lima—Austin's starting left and right backs—rarely get the limelight, but they proved their importance in head coach Josh Wolff's build-from-the-back playing style with plenty of game savers Saturday night.
Both defenders won most of their duels with Portland winger Yimmi Chará and the rest of the Timbers offense. Lima's speed and calm helped slow down tense situations before they led to goals, while Kolmanic was a key cog in Austin's offense as he funneled his passes up the left side.
New Finnish center back Ruben Gabrielsen took the stage alongside the two with his first start of the season over young CB Kipp Keller. Gabrielsen took a tumble on a corner kick to help give up Portland's only goal, but he and speedy sub Jon Gallagher became Portland's public enemy No. 1 in the second half as the two kept the score 1-0.
Austin FC promised better defense and depth at the end of last season, and it has delivered.
Wolff swapped five players just after the set piece goal. It might have been too late of a decision for some fans' liking, but the players he chose kept the Verde and Black in the game for the rest of the match. Gallagher, who started as a winger to the club, outran every Portland forward with ease at left back, while Ethan Finlay took post at the wing.
Even Rodney Redes, who failed to end last season with results, was in the fight for a late-game goal. Striker Moussa Djitte was the only sub who seemed to lack some oomph in the final minutes of the match.
Recovery is key
Austin was all fight in the first half, but some old cracks began to resurface as the club was hit with three straight yellow cards to start the second half.
Afterwards, the Verde and Black seemed to lose control, leading to more mistakes and lost goalscoring opportunities as frustration mounted.
Austin has historically struggled with "second-half curses" and recovering when it's down, something it'll need to stamp out as it heads into a home match against the formidable Seattle Sounders without its 10-goal momentum on Sunday.
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Austin police are investigating the killing of Moriah "Mo" Wilson after she was found with gunshot wounds inside an Austin home.
Wilson, a gravel and mountain bike racer, was visiting Austin from Colorado in preparation for the Gravel Locos race on Saturday taking place in Hico, a small town 2 hours from Austin.
On Wednesday, her roommate came home and found Wilson unresponsive with "a lot of blood near her,” police said. It is now being investigated as a suspicious death. No further information on the suspect or motive behind the killing are available at this time.
Wilson recently had become a full-time biker after winning a slew of races in the past year.
Some of your favorite Instagram filters can’t be used in Texas anymore and Austinites are sounding off on social media.
Meta, Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, announced on Wednesday that certain filters would no longer be available in Texas.
The change is a result of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawsuit against Meta, alleging the company uses facial recognition technology that violates laws in Texas. A release from Meta says it stopped using facial recognition tech in November 2021 and denies Paxton’s allegations.
Some Austinites bemoaned the shift, saying some of their favorite filters were now unavailable.
This was my FAVORITE filter on @instagram and they done removed it cause I’m in Texas ! Like wowwwwww pic.twitter.com/uX60hdIC0Q
— Pinkyy Montana (@inkstar_pinkyy) May 11, 2022
i heard that instagram filters got banned in texas? what the actual fuck y’all better give me my favorite filter back
— lia 🤍 (@liatootrill) May 11, 2022
loved this stupid filter sm i hate texas pic.twitter.com/DXr9mmUc64
— birthday boy jeno 🎂 (@beabtox) May 12, 2022
But more often than not, locals joked about the ban.
Texas women seeing the filter ban on IG pic.twitter.com/yDMcP3Qtsr
— Christian (Anabolic) Flores (@christian_flo24) May 11, 2022
So, the state of Texas has banned filter use on IG? THE END IS NEAR. 😂
— THE FRANCHISE! Франшиза (@NYCFranchise718) May 12, 2022
And some in-between chose to show off some natural beauty.
I live in Texas, but no filter needed. 😉 pic.twitter.com/A6teRgYMKn
— bad and bruja (@starseedmami) May 11, 2022
filter, no filter..texas women still reign supreme.
— 🎍 (@_sixile) May 11, 2022
Finally, some are trying to cash in on the opportunity.
Texas IG users- if you want to filter your picture cashapp me $1.50 $ErvnYng
— Gemini (@ervn_y) May 11, 2022
Meta said it plans to create an opt-in system for both Texas and Illinois residents, who are facing the same issues.