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.
- What fans new and old can expect for Austin FC's second season ... ›
- Wolff, Finlay, Driussi named to MLS Team of the Week after Austin ... ›
- Austin FC makes MLS history at Q2 Stadium with five-goal Inter ... ›
- Austin FC beats FC Cincinnati 5-0 in first 2022 match at Q2 Stadium ... ›
- Austin FC takes first draw of 2022 to Seattle Sounders at Q2 - austonia ›
- Three takeaways from Austin's 1-0 win to Minnesota United - austonia ›
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!