Hundreds of Austin FC fans took their first Texas trip to FC Dallas on Saturday, hoping for another Lone Star rivalry win and a successful debut from new star signee Sebastian Driussi. Instead, a mysterious starting lineup switch from Josh Wolff and "play from the back mindset left Austin scoreless again as they lost 2-0 to the home team.
Austin is now 1-1 for matches in the Texas Derby, which tallies MLS wins between Texan teams, after a 3-2 victory over Houston Dynamo on Wednesday.
Wolff's new lineup saw all three Designated Players on the bench for the first time this season. Even Tomas Pochettino, who scored two of Austin's three goals on Wednesday and was voted Austin FC's first MLS Player of the Week honors, joined DP Cecilio Dominguez and Driussi on the sidelines as Austin's younger players took the stage. The move garnered plenty of criticism from even diehard Austin FC fans.
I respect your infinite wisdom and I get the devil's advocate perspective here, but this is inexcusable. It's a rivalry. He talks every press conference about how great the fans are and then shows no respect for a game that means so much to us. We could win and I'd still be mad.
— Chris Welhausen (@chriswelhausen) August 8, 2021
The club developed a "play from the back" mindset as veterans Matt Besler, Hector Jimenez and Julio Cascante were met with rare starters Jhohan Romana and Aedan Stanley. Diego Fagundez was left without much backup in the front of the pitch alongside newbie Manny Perez, while midfield leader Alex Ring was met with Daniel Pereira in midfield for the first time since a weekslong injury hiatus.
While Austin appeared to maintain control and possession in the first half despite Wolff's head-scratching lineup, the flaws of Wolff's mysterious plan were made evident immediately as the second half whistle blew.
Austin FC quickly lost control as the second half began, conceding a goal from Dallas' Ryan Hollingshead in the 50th minute. Immediately after, starters Nick Lima, Dominguez, Pochettino and Gallagher moved to the end line to get subbed in alongside Driussi.
The dream team entered the pitch ten minutes later, but Dallas capitalized on the transition as the new subs fought to find their footing. In the 63rd minute, Dallas' Ferreira doubled the lead for the home team.
Ferreira slots it home! That's 2-0 for @FCDallas! #DALvATXpic.twitter.com/Ej8hAR8a57
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 8, 2021
The team once again returned to scorelessness after their streak was unbroken Wednesday and have been shut out for nine of their last 12 matches.
Wolff attributed health reasons to the benching of Pochettino and Dominguez. Pochettino has played some of the most minutes for the team, Wolff said, while Dominguez has been "off" for the past few weeks.
Despite the loss, Austin FC fans flooded Toyota Stadium with the ferocity of a home match, sticking out like a sore thumb in Verde as they sang, danced and banged their drums over the home crowd.
Austin fans stick out like a sore thumb, I love it😂 pic.twitter.com/vpE8rc9III
— Claire (@partain_claire) August 8, 2021
To the hundreds of fans who came to Frisco with the hopes of seeing starters on the pitch for the rivalry match, Wolff said he and the team will "take the criticism" for the rivalry loss.
"We also have to make decisions based on the health of our players (and) the long term goals," Wolff said. "Obviously a different score would have been better...but we gave up a goal, it was a careless mistake, and we were punished for it."
Next up, the team will hit the road once again to face Real Salt Lake for the first time at 9 p.m. on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium.
63' Dallas doubles the lead
Before Driussi and crew begin to get their footing, Dallas' Ferreira capitalizes on the transition and doubles the lead for the home team. Austin, normally a possession-heavy team, has split possession half-and-half and is losing in shots (11-7) and shots on goal (5-2).
Austin gave too many opportunities and fast breaks to FC Dallas, and the repercussions of Wolff's mysterious plan have finally revealed themselves on the pitch. Th club will look to use their newfound confidence in Driussi, Pochettino and Dominguez and inject some energy if they hope to close out the second half with three back-to-back goals.
62' Driussi makes his debut
62' | Several #AustinFC substitutions.— Austin FC (@AustinFC) August 8, 2021
➡️ Tomás Pochettino
⬅️ Sebastian Berhalter
➡️ Nick Lima
⬅️ Hector Jimenez
➡️ Cecilio Domínguez
⬅️ Matt Besler
➡️ Sebastián Driussi
⬅️ Dani Pereira pic.twitter.com/5KtI9ds4Ml
Austin brings out their three DPs in a powerful substitution in the 62nd minute. Dominguez and Pochettino join Driussi, who is getting his first minutes with his new team. Nick Lima joins the hopeful dream team.
50' Show's over: Austin FC concedes first goal
It's time to bring out the big guns.
Austin FC quickly lost control as the second half begins, conceding a goal from Dallas' Ryan Hollingshead in the 50th minute. Immediately after, starters Nick Lima, Dominguez Pochettino and Gallagher moved to the end line to get subbed in. Driussi is also nearing his first start with the team.
At the half: Austin looks comfortable, but comfortable isn't enough
Regardless of the result, I hope all my friends in the press question Wolff heavily on this lineup. Feels disrespectful to the fans in a game this important. @ChrisBils@LWOSMarkTurner@CravenMike@partain_claire— Chris Welhausen (@chriswelhausen) August 8, 2021
Wolff's first-half lineup drew plenty of criticism from fans as they geared up to play FC Dallas, With star Driussi finally in the lineup, it just seemed cruel to keep fans waiting even longer.
Almost all of the stars were out of the lineup as well: for the first time this season, both Designated Players Tomas Pochettino and Cecilio Dominguez were off the pitch in the first half. In their stead was the capable Fagundez, but with just a young Manny Perez to back him up, the team wasn't able to convert their high possession rate into goals.
The back line looked comfortable despite the new faces, but Stuver was still left defenderless a few times as Dallas' Pepi made moves on goal.
Many fans are wondering why the club would keep out their all-stars in a rivalry match. Wolff may be playing the long game: he could be preparing for an all gas, no brakes moment as he stacks the second half with Driussi's debut and his fellow DP's.
Wolff proved to be either lucky or a mad genius as the first half worked in his favor. Now, the club will look to trample their Texan rivals on their own home turf as they head into the second half.
43' Dallas is saved by the post
Fagundez was stymied by both posts as his free kick hits the top right corner. Fagundez has been the main cog in the team's attacking team thus far, but he's expected to be joined by Dominguez, Driussi and Pochettino after the half.
33' Besler grabs a header
Brad Stuver has had plenty of one-on-one run-ins with FC Dallas attackers, specifically Ricardo Pepi, and he's stayed alive so far. In the 33rd minute, center back Matt Besler ensures it stays that way as he dives for a header to keep the ball out of goal. This game has seen a calmer defense and balanced midfield with the help of Pereira so far.
8' Perez tries for his first Austin goal
We're not backing down. pic.twitter.com/uSSseBYmIl— Austin FC (@AustinFC) August 8, 2021
Austin FC's Manny Perez breaks away early from the home team and makes a tight shot on goal, but Dallas' Jimmy Maurer is able to save the close-up shot from the center of goal.
The Verde wave drowns out Dallas noise
Austin fans stick out like a sore thumb, I love it😂 pic.twitter.com/vpE8rc9III— Claire (@partain_claire) August 8, 2021
Armed with drums, banners and their own voices, hundreds of Austin FC fans could clearly be heard over home team supporters as they chanted for their team. FC Dallas was worried enough to stage a Dallas Stars night—encouraging fans to wear the city's green-and-black hockey team jerseys—so the invasion wouldn't be as obvious.
It seems the club either retracted their statement or fans didn't get the memo: very few Dallas fans are donned in Stars regalia tonight, and Verde fans stick out from the red of the crowd.
Austin FC starting lineup
Wolff has a vision for tonight's match, and no one else seems to quite understand it. Pochettino, who scored two of three goals Wednesday night, is on the bench to start, while rare starters Manny Perez, Jhohan Romana, and Aedan Stanley are back in. Daniel Pereira is in the starting lineup after several weeks' absence and a short appearance on Wednesday; he's been part of the starting XI for every Austin FC win this season.
Meanwhile, the long-awaited Driussi is still on the bench after finishing quarantine this week. Fans will have to wait just a bit longer for the star striker's debut on the pitch.
Bucee's goes Verde
After a long stretch at home, Austin FC fans did what they knew best prior to the Dallas match. After piling into buses and caravans on the way up I-35, the crew invaded a Bucee's, marched on Frisco near Toyota Stadium and took up plenty of real estate in a corner of the stadium.
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🗓 All weekend
Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities
All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park
This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.
6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703
This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.
10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park
Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.
Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.
11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway
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.”