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Austinite McKinze Gaines scored for the first time last Sunday and got his first start Wednesday. (Austin FC/Twitter)

Austin FC can't fall further in their conference's standings, but their pride still took a hit as they lost 3-0 to the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday.


Just days after their triumphant win on Sunday, head coach Josh Wolff made seven lineup changes for the road match, including a rare swap of keeper Brad Stuver for Andrew Tarbell. Paired with a controversial penalty kick call (or lack thereof), the club could never regain their footing as Colorado scored twice in two minutes of play near the half to win the match.

For Wolff, the substitutions came down to resting top players in a three-game stretch across seven games. Still, Wolff said he made mistakes in his lineup strategy.

"The chemistry that they've had playing together...(is) certainly needed," Wolff said. "Obviously there's familiarity, and when we made the changes that I got completely wrong, too many changes disrupted our ability to play."

In a game that mirrored the club's 2-0 loss to FC Dallas, head coach Josh Wolff took three of their club's top scorers out of the entire lineup. Three players- including Moussa Djitte, who scored his first goal with the club on Sunday, Austin's first-ever scorer Diego Fagundez and star transfer Sebastian Driussi- never left Texas.

In their stead was Austinite McKinze Gaines, a striker who made history as the first native Austin resident to score for the club just 10 minutes into his first match on Sunday. Gaines proved to be the club's most dangerous asset through the first half and used his speed to nearly score in the 36th minute. Gaines was knocked by a Rapids defender just inside the box, a move that warranted a penalty kick.

But the PK call would never come, shocking Austin FC announcers and outraging Wolff and the team.

"It's a difficult decision that we've got to live with," Wolff said. "It's not a penalty, not a red and I'm sure we'll get an apology, but that's life."

A flustered Austin FC took their first hit when the Rapids' Jonathan Lewis scored on a header that deflected off Austin's Nick Lima before bouncing in goal just seconds before halftime.

Tarbell, who earned his first start in the match, made his first error as he passed to a Rapids defender less than a minute into the second half. Colorado's Nicolás Mezquida quickly capitalized on the mistake as he completed two touches to double the home team's lead.

An unfortunate match took an even worse turn in the 59th minute as the Rapids' scored on a signature set piece to give Austin their worst deficit in team history.

Marred by yellow cards, more substitutions and a messy end, the Verde and Black left Dick's Sporting Goods Stadium with their first loss on its pitch. But Wolff is confident that the team could still come out of the week with six points after the next road match.

"I told these guys, 'Don't let this have any effect on you,'" Wolff said. "I got this wrong, that's my my responsibility and I screwed that up, (but) let's pick ourselves up quickly and get ready for another good game at home."

The club will look for recovery in a home match against Real Salt Lake in a rare afternoon match at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

67' Austin makes two substitutions

With a 3-0 deficit well into the second half, Austin FC swaps Designated Player Tomas Pochettino for Sebastian Berhalter and McKinze Gaines for Rodney Redes. Wolff appears to be resting his players up at this point by giving his last star players a break.

59' Colorado goes up 3-0

Austin's performance on the road has taken a nosedive after Colorado capitalized on their signature set pieces to bounce in a tricky header for their third goal of the night.

With seven lineup changes from Sunday's win, many fans are comparing the match to the 2-0 FC Dallas loss that also saw head coach Josh Wolff bench three of the team's top scorers. The club is now stuck doing damage control as they fight to end the match with any goals to their name.

46' Colorado doubles the lead

Just seconds before the first half ended, Colorado scored, and seconds into the second half, they scored once more. After a solid first half, Andrew Tarbell miscalculated a pass that rolled straight to the Rapids' Nicolás Mezquida.

Mezquida took no hesitation as he completed two touches before smoothly shooting into the bottom right corner of goal.

It's not going to be a deja vu moment for Austin FC's last road match against the Rapids, but Wolff has placed Dominguez into play in place of defender Manny Perez. If Dominguez starts a pattern at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, it could mean Austin comes away with at least a draw tonight.

45+ Colorado scores

A frustrating half for Austin FC ended even further out of their favor as the Rapids' Jonathan Lewis scored off of a deflection from Austin FC defender Nick Lima's leg in a corner kick in the final minutes of the first half.

The close-up header nixes Andrew Tarbell's chance at a clean sheet at no fault of his own as Austin leaves the pitch to regroup.

In his last match at Dick's Sporting Goods Field, Cecilio Dominguez was the proved a vital weapon for the team as he scored twice to transform the match from a 1-0 deficit to a 3-1 win.With no Driussi, Djitte or Fagundez, Dominguez may be the club's final weapon.

36' Controversial call keeps Gaines without a PK

A few minutes after Austinite McKinze Gaines became the first Austinite to nab a yellow card with the club, he attempted to double his goals with Austin with an aggressive drive up the field.

Gaines is roughly stopped by the Rapids' defense in the box. Though it appears through video replay that a penalty kick was deserved, the referees make no call in Austin FC's favor. Austin commentators Adrian Healey and Michael Lahoud are stumped at the call (or lack thereof) and head coach Josh Wolff is outraged.

Austin FC is now working to keep their composure after what appears to be another unlucky call.

30' Tarbell gets first saves

Andrew Tarbell may not have minutes behind him, but he's playing like a man who's started before this season as he nabs two key saves in the half to keep Colorado at bay. The Rapids are dominating the stat board-they've got 70% possession, six shots and two shots on goal. Meanwhile, Austin has one shot and is struggling to gain any control in the match.

Starting lineup

Instead of sticking to Sunday's game-winning lineup, Wolff has scratched some heads by cutting scorers Moussa Djitte, Diego Fagundez and Sebastian Driussi out of the bench and starting XI. According to reporter Jorge Itturalde, none of the game-scoring trio even made their way to Colorado. Cecilio Dominguez, a usual starter, is also out of the starting XI but was named to the bench.

In their stead is McKinze Gaines, the team's first native Austinite who scored less than 10 minutes into his first start on Sunday. Gaines will be joined by Jon Gallagher and Jared Stroud.

Captain Alex Ring is back as anchor in the midfield, but center back Julio Cascante has been replaced by Manny Perez, a young player who usually plays up front. Perhaps most surprising is Austin's choice to bench keeper Brad Stuver for the first time this season in the stead of Andrew Tarbell.

It's a confusing choice after Sunday's game, but perhaps Wolff has a trick up his sleeve.

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