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Despite a comeback attempt, Austin FC falls to rivals FC Dallas in 5-3 heartbreaker

Austin FC's last-minute comeback attempt wasn't enough to right the ship in a 5-3 loss to rivals FC Dallas. (Q2 Stadium/Twitter)

Austin FC may have scored big Sunday night, but they suffered even bigger losses as they gave up three back-to-back goals in a tumultuous 5-3 loss to rivals FC Dallas.

Despite scoring a near-record three times for the second match in a row, the club saw massive defensive woes as they gave up three goals in just seven minutes to end the first half.

"For about seven or eight minutes, for whatever reason, the focus and the intensity and the the willingness to compete evaporated," head coach Josh Wolff said. "It proved fatal."

Dallas frontmen Jesus Ferreira and Ricardo Pepi, both under 21, each scored a brace in the match as they brought their team to 2-0 over Austin.

Ferreira struck first in the match after capitalizing off a block from Austin keeper Brad Stuver. The lead was short-lived, however, as Austin's Julio Cascante scored his first goal with Austin FC with a header to tie the match 1-1 less than 15 minutes into play.

FC Dallas soon broke Austin FC's system, however, as they dismantled the home team's possession-heavy gameplay and broke their back line. Pepi struck next as he shot one in the bottom left corner to score his tenth goal of the season. Austin's defense quickly crumbled as both Ferreira and Pepi scored again in less than 10 minutes to bring the lead to 4-1 at the half.

With pressure mounting and a stadium in shock, Austin FC's Josh Wolff was given a near-impossible task to recover from the disastrous first half. Wolff attempted to pull off some damage control as he swapped defenders Julio Cascante and Zan Kolmanic for Jhohan Romana and Hector Jimenez to start the second half, but the red, white and blue would score once more in 53rd minute to bring the lead to 5-1.

Wolff said he was disappointed in the unprofessional performances from some of Austin's players as they failed to brush off their mistakes.

"The intensity was gone and (there was) a little bit of feeling sorry for ourselves, but you've got to get right back up and compete," Wolff said. "It's a professional game...and we have to match that. We didn't react the right way and we got punished. There were some really poor reactions on the field and that'll be addressed. We can't have players on the field react in that way."

Austin wasn't finished yet, however. Fan favorite Diego Fagundez narrowed the lead to 5-2 in the 57th minute with help from Designated Player Sebastian Driussi as he muscled past the FC Dallas keeper to score for the home team. With the goal, Fagundez is now tied with Cecilio Dominguez as the team's top goal-scorer.

Captain Alex Ring soon followed with a tricky header to make it 5-3, once again earning the support of the ever-present Verde fanbase.

Wolff said he was still impressed with Fagundez' and Ring's attempts at a comeback.

"It's going to tough to find positives in that," Wolff said. "But obviously it's good to see them put it together and compete."

Wolff also provided a rare highlight for the match as transfer Moussa Djitte made his debut in the final minutes of play after months of preparation.

But despite Djitte's debut and attempts at a comeback, their efforts proved too little, too late in the rivalry match.

This marks Austin's biggest loss in club history as they gave up more goals than in any other match as the club once again sits tied at the bottom of the Western Conference.

Here's all the ups and downs of the match:

81' Djitte makes his debut

Austin FC may be down 5-3, but there's at least one highlight to take away from the match: Moussa Djitte, a striker who transferred from the French Ligue back in June, subbed in for Cecilio Dominguez in the 81st minute to make his debut with the team.

Djitte is expected to help alleviate Austin's scoring woes alongside fellow newcomer Sebastian Driussi. Perhaps he'll make even more of a mark on this game tonight.

68' Alex Ring heads it in! 

I think we can objectively agree that 5-3 isn't so bad, right?

While it may or may not be enough for a comeback win, a goal headed in by Captain Alex Ring serves as a huge morale booster for the team. Fans that already sent beer showers flying with a 5-2 score are spraying even more now as the stadium erupts into cheers. Austin FC is more than halfway to a comeback, and it's evident as momentum very slowly drifts back their way.

57' Goal No. 2 for Austin!

Looks like there's still some steam in Austin's sputtering tank. Fan favorite Diego Fagundez muscles past the FC Dallas keeper and injects some much-needed energy onto the pitch. Fagundez's goal is more of a morale boost than anything else, but it propels Fagundez to tie with Cecilio Dominguez as the team's top goal-scorer.

53' Dallas makes it 5-1

Looks like Austin's woes won't be left behind in the second half. This time, it's Dallas' Jáder Obrian who goes one-on-one with Stuver and comes out victorious as he gets one smoothly in the top left corner of goal. It's now 5-1 in Austin for the team's worst deficit to date.

46' Wolff swaps out the back line

After a messy first half, it's up to head coach Josh Wolff to clean up.

To start the second half, Wolff swaps defenders Julio Cascante and Zan Kolmanic for Jhohan Romana and Hector Jimenez in an attempt to bolster the failing back line. Wolff also brings Designated Player Tomas Pochettino in for Jon Gallagher as the team swaps to a more defensive mindset.

Three goals in four minutes is enough to have any team rattled. It's also enough for some fans to leave the stadium: there are a few more greeen seats than before to start the second half, though the majority have stayed put and are continuing to chant for their team.

Despite being at the bottom of the Western Conference, Austin's pride has never been shaken this severely. It will be interesting to see whether they can recover with the comeback of the century or leave their home pitch 0-2 against their rivals.

38' FC Dallas scores back-to-back goals

In the blink of an eye, Austin loses their momentum of the match as both Pepi and Ferreira score back-to-back goals at breakneck speed to make it 4-1 Dallas in the first half.

Austin once again lets the club build its way to the front of the pitch and invade the box. Despite deflections by Stuver and team, Dallas is able to take control in the match and up their lead by two more.

36' Dallas strikes back, gains 2-1 lead

Just as Austin seemed to gain some semblance of control, FC Dallas once again swung the pendulum their way as Dallas' Ricardo Pepi scores the club's second goal of the night and his tenth goal this season.

25' Pair of yellow cards as Austin continues to threaten goal

As per usual, Austin is holding on to the ball with 61% possession in the match. The control is starting to pay off: Austin's Alex Ring very nearly puts in a rare far-out shot to give the home team their first lead of the match.

While the team continues to work for another goal, two yellow cards are issued for each team. while Dallas' Szabolcs Schön is issued in the 17th minute, while Austin's Nick Lima is awarded a card in the 25th minute of play.

Cascante finds the equalizer!

Less than 15 minutes into the match, Austin FC has found the equalizer after defender Julio Cascante's header sails smoothly into goal. Zan Kolmanic's cross was perfectly put into play by Cascante, who tied up the match with his first goal of the season.

Dallas strikes first

Austin FC may have the upper hand in their home fortress, but it's FC Dallas who strikes first. Keeper Brad Stuver is able to block a first attempt, but Dallas' Jesus Ferreira gets it in on the rebound. It's FC Dallas up one once again.

Starting lineup

Austin FC is sticking to what they know this week: the team's starting XI is the same as it was in their Timbers victory.

As always, keeper Brad Stuver will hold it down in goal, supplemented by defenders Matt Besler, Julio Cascante, Zan Kolmanic and Nick Lima.

Captain Alex Ring will keep the middle together alongside Diego Fagundez and Daniel Pereira, while newcomer Sebastian Driussi will go for goal alongside fellow Designated Player Cecilio Dominguez and forward Jon Gallagher.

Transfer Moussa Djitte has yet to get playing time despite being listed on the bench last week, but he may make his first appearance in the rivalry match.


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