Austin FC ended their season on a disappointing note as they fell 3-0 to the Portland Timbers Sunday night to wrap up their first year of play.
The Verde and Black left their inaugural season with an unassuming 9-4-21 record, narrowly missing a chance to be crowned the Best in Texas and end in 11th place in the Western Conference over FC Dallas. Instead, the club edged past the Houston Dynamo to earn a 12th place slot in the West, beating out the Dynamo and the East's Cincinnati and Toronto in overall points to close out the season.
And although they saw moments of greatness—including two dominating wins over Portland in the past—the challenges of a new team, inconsistency on the pitch and injuries kept the club from making a solid playoff run.
But that didn't stop fans from pouring into Q2 Stadium every week or traveling to see their team, including over 100 Verde attendees at the final Portland match.
The club was unable to bring the energy from their David-and-Goliath win over No. 2 Sporting Kansas City for their final home match on Wednesday, however, as the Timbers successfully pulled off a revenge victory.
Austin nearly got an early lead as they had Wednesday as Diego Fagundez maneuvered past the Portland defense to get one in goal just three minutes into the match, but a handball call just prior kept the goal from counting.
Just a few minutes later, the Timbers found themselves alone against Austin keeper Brad Stuver in the Verde box—a pattern that would repeat itself in the poorly-defended match.
By the 17th minute, Austin FC was punished for their leniency as a blunder in the back led to Portland's first goal. The 1-0 Timbers would keep control for the rest of the match, scoring once more just before the halftime whistle as Portland's Yimmi Chara beat out Austin defender Zan Kolmanic to set his teammate Jaroslaw Niezgoda up for a close-range header.
The second half proved just as dismal for Austin as they seemed to hang their heads for the rest of the match. A few bright spots—including winger Jared Stroud's well-placed crosses and some playing time for young players like Freddy Kleeman and Owen Wolff—shone through, but Portland still scored again in the 53rd minute to clinch the match.
After seven months of weekly matches and over three years of anticipation, Austin FC's first ride has come to a close. And though they've lost plenty of matches—and garnered plenty of criticism—support from thousands of Verde fans has never wavered.
Those fans will see their team once again after a few months of regrouping in late February as the 2022 MLS season begins.
Here were the biggest plays of Austin's final match:
53' Portland makes it 3-0
Despite a valiant parry from Austin keeper Brad Stuver, Austin FC concedes their third goal of the night as Portland's Sebastián Blanco gets it in off a deflection from just a few feet out.
It seems as though the Verde and Black have already checked out of their final match, and it will be very hard to gain some dignity with a goal or two by the end of the match.
46' Dominguez subs in for Djitte
Senegalese striker Moussa Djitte has subbed out for Designated Player Cecilio Dominguez, who will play up front for Austin's final half of the season. Dominguez is tied with Diego Fagundez for the most goals this season.
A minute into the second half, Sebastian Berhalter receives a yellow card for a shirt grab that he can't quite conceal.
And just a few minutes in, Portland has once again found no one between themselves and Austin FC's goal a few too many times. If the Verde and Black don't plug their holes, it's only a matter of time before another goal is scored against them in their last match.
45+' Austin concedes second goal at the half
Less than a minute before the end of the half, Austin FC was once again punished for haphazard defending as Portland's Yimmi Chara beat out Austin FC defender Zan Kolmanic to set up Timbers teammate Jaroslaw Niezgoda with a close range header and double the lead.
Austin FC has been consistently outplayed by the Timbers, a stark contrast from their other Portland matchups, as they head into the half with a 2-0 deficit.
17' Portland scores as Austin loses momentum
Portland has finally broken through Austin's sluggish defense as the club capitalizes on a Verde misstep and scores from just a few feet away in the 17th minute of play.
It's the first time Austin has conceded first in a Portland matchup and was bound to happen sooner or later as blunders in the back keep leaving Portland alone in the box. If the club looks to have a season shutout for their final match, they'll need to close some gaps and welcome new urgency across the pitch.
3' Austin—and Portland—nearly score early
Austin FC almost started this match much like their Wednesday victory—just three minutes into play, the club did some maneuvering near the box before Diego Fagundez beat out the Portland defense and put the ball into the back of the net. But just before the would-be goal, a handball call was called on Fagundez off a bounce.
Just a minute later, Portland found themselves nearly alone and quicker than Stuver in a worrying play in the box, but a last-second touch from center back Julio Cascante kept the Timbers out of goal.
Final starting lineup
Jared Stroud, a rare starter who saw a goal in his first start in months on Wednesday, is back in the starting XI as he looks for his second MLS goal. DP Cecilio Dominguez is on the bench tonight, with star transfers Moussa Djitte and Sebastian Driussi up front alongside Stroud.
With center back Jhohan Romana still out, it looks like Captain Alex Ring will once again take his place instead of his regular spot in the middle. Although untraditional, it's a trick that worked last match, and a young Sebastian Berhalter looks to be taking his place. Tomas Pochettino is back in midfield alongside Berhalter and Diego Fagundez, who is tied with Dominguez as the team's top scorer.
In the back, Hoctor Jimenez is back in for right back, with Julio Cascante taking center back alongside Ring and Zan Kolmanic flanking the left hand side. As always, Brad Stuver is taking the keeper position for the final match.
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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!