Seven goals, eight yellow cards and nine minutes of stoppage time later, Austin FC lost its stellar first-half lead in a contentious 4-3 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
The Quakes came out victorious with their first goal and win against Austin after a scoreless draw in Austin FC's home opener on June 19. But the first half told a different story.
Newcomers Sebastian Driussi and Moussa Djitte broke that scoreless streak early with a goal in the sixth minute as Driussi drove in a block from Djitte's header for his second goal with the team.
Come for the goal, stay for the celly 👋@SebadriussiOk slots it home early for #VERDE pic.twitter.com/Iv7IiUTv0R
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 19, 2021
San Jose responded in the 17th minute off a corner kick with a goal of their own, but the first half was all Austin as they took easy control over the game.
For the first time in a long time, the Verde and Black held back on possession and took their time up front, playing with purpose and style as Jon Gallagher and Alex Ring placed a smooth second goal in the 35th minute to make it 2-1 Austin.
Beautiful ⚽️ from @AustinFC.
Alex Ring finds Jon Gallagher to put #VERDE on top. pic.twitter.com/bXKoNwYQSi
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 19, 2021
Captain Ring scored just minutes later to make it 3-1 at the half with a tricky goal from outside of the box, and the home team left the pitch with ease after a half that let their identity and confidence shine for the first time in weeks.
But a second half marred with fouls, fights and a loss of pace soon lost the match for Austin FC.
San Jose quickly took momentum to start the second half as they scored in the 49th minute. In a cruel twist of fate, Austin was punished with a penalty kick on a handball call for the second match in a row as Ring was given a yellow card, and the Quakes took that opportunity to tie up the match.
A fight that marked the turning point of the match broke out just after, leaving the game in chaos for several minutes. Both Brad Stuver and San Jose's Cristian Espinoza were given yellow cards.
Soon after, the 'Quakes found their first lead of the match as Javier Lopez shot one into the bottom right corner, and Ring was given his second yellow one minute later as he was sent out of the match. The red card will keep Ring out of the next match as well.
Austin FC fought back with seven more shots, including four on goal, as they tried to tie the match again with just ten men. But with their confidence slipping and a new physicality in the game, including another yellow card for each team, the home team was unable to use nine extra minutes of stoppage time to take any points from the tumultuous match.
Austin FC is now on a five-match losing streak and has won just one of their past nine games. They'll take a break before fighting for redemption once again in a home match against the LA Galaxy at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 26.
62' San Jose takes the lead
We are mayhem. pic.twitter.com/mCalCUeSR1— San Jose Earthquakes (@SJEarthquakes) September 19, 2021
In just four minutes Austin FC has suffered two yellow cards and lost two goals as San Jose takes a 4-3 lead.
An unfortunate twist of fate makes Austin subject to another penalty kick as Alex Ring gets a yellow card off a hand ball call in the box for the team's second handball PK in two matches. Despite a near-save from Stuver, San Jose's Javier López ties the match with a shot to the right hand corner.
Just after the goal, Austin FC's biggest fight yet breaks out in the box, and after minutes of chaos, both Stuver and the Quakes' Cristian Espinoza are given a yellow card.
But peace doesn't last for long. Just four minutes later, Lopez scores again to give San Jose their first lead. Diego Fagundez and Rodney Redes are subbed in to boost morale, but in the 65th minute Ring is given a second yellow to get him kicked out of the match for the second time this season.
In five minutes, Austin loses its cool and pays dearly for it. The substitution of Cecilio Dominguez in for Djitte and a few minutes of complacency bring Austin FC at a deficit once again as the physicality of the match intensifies.
49' San Jose retaliates
San Jose is reminding Austin not to get too cocky. Just three minutes into the second half and with a few new faces, the 'Quakes found a way to bounce back with a goal from Cristian Espinoza.
Austin's 3-2 lead is feeling shakier as San Jose comes back strong, and subs Cecilio Dominguez and Sebastian Berhalter will need to adapt to the match quickly as they come in for Djitte and Pereira.
At the half: Austin FC's got style
Things we never get tired of. 💚🖤 pic.twitter.com/3k9jdmD05L— Austin FC (@AustinFC) September 19, 2021
Up 3-1 at the half, Austin FC is playing with a purpose, and they're doing it without their usual tactics.
For the first time in a long time at least, Austin FC left the first half without an advantage in possession. But it seems to be paying off.
The home team held just 44.2% possession over the Quakes in an area they normally dominate as they sit comfortably in the lead with three goals for the first time since their last win against the Portland Timbers on August 21.
Each time they get the ball, Austin is playing with confidence and style, making deliberate passes up front instead of holding onto possession in the back. Outstanding performances from Captain Alex Ring, Jon Gallagher and Sebastian Driussi are providing a boost, while the presence of a true striker, Moussa Djitte, in the starting lineup is proving fatal for Austin's opponents.
So far this match, Ring has racked up a goal and assist, Gallagher has sunk his third goal and Djitte has nearly scored on his debut. The front end is slowing down the pace without losing confidence, and for once Austin fans aren't forced to watch the ball ping-pong from goal to goal.
This is the Austin identity that fans have just seen glimpses of this season, and although playoffs are out of the picture, it could be the key to a late-season comeback.
45' Ring makes it 3!
He can't be stopped. 😤 pic.twitter.com/CjSCG6KBaD— Austin FC (@AustinFC) September 19, 2021
Austin FC is on a roll tonight, including Captain Alex Ring. Just minutes after a clutch assist, Ring jukes out a Quakes defender and keeper JT Markincowski with an out-of-box shot to the bottom left corner. It's 3-1 Austin at the half.
35' Austin FC goes up 2-1!
After an easy play up the middle from Daniel Pereira, Austin FC's Alex Ring and Jon Gallagher form a dream team as they pass their way into a goal. Austin FC has smoothed out their wrinkles and are playing deliberate, confident soccer as they go up 2-1 against the Quakes.
18' San Jose scores
Austin FC struck gold first, but the Californian's didn't let them keep the lead for long as the Quakes' Marcos López headed one in after a corner kick and cross from Carlos Fierro.
Both teams have been hungry to score in their first faceoff, with each team taking three shots apiece in the first 20 minutes.
7' Driussi and Djitte make it 1-0 Austin
Just minutes into his debut, Djitte nearly heads the ball in off of a cross from Alex Ring to become the first Austin scorer against San Jose. Instead, fellow newcomer Driussi gets it in off of a block from the Quakes keeper to make it 1-0 Austin seven minutes in. In eight games, Driussi has racked up two goals and three assists and helped rejuvenate Austin's offense.
After three matches in just eight days, Austin FC head coach is giving two regular starters, Diego Fagundez and Cecilio Dominguez, some much-needed rest. In their stead is Tomas Pochettino, who returned to the lineup after a match off, and Moussa Djitte, the new striker who is making his starting debut with the team.
Center back Matt Besler is out of both the starting lineup and bench, while Jon Gallagher is in at the wing instead of last weeks' starter Jared Stroud.
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Austin's Delta 8 industry has been turned on its head after Texas health officials clarified that the cannabinoid is on the state list of illegal substances, though it was previously believed to be legal by most retailers, consumers and manufacturers.
House Bill 1325, which was signed in June 2019 by Gov. Greg Abbott, and the Farm Bill, signed into law by former President Donald Trump in 2018, legalized any hemp product containing less than .3% THC. The same bills were thought to have made Delta 8 legal, though the Texas Department of State Health Services added a notice on its website saying it was still a controlled substance as of Friday, Oct. 15.
Both the federal and state governments keep separate lists on what is considered a controlled substance. Marijuana is considered Schedule I, a category reserved for substances with "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse," both statewide and federally.
Austin-based CBD retailer Grassroots Harvest CEO Kemal Whyte, like many CBD shop retailers, was blindsided by the announcement. Many small businesses rely on Delta 8 for their sales—Green Herbal Care CBD said about 90% of its sales come from Delta 8—and Whyte said he is frustrated by the inconsistencies in the drug scheduling system.
Since 87% of Texans support the legalization of marijuana, at least for medical use, per a recent poll, Whyte said he wonders who this legislation is for.
"It's gonna have a massive impact on small businesses—there's just no way around it," Whyte said. "The reality is, we don't want to push out anything bad for our customers, we want this to benefit our customers and to help them. If we can make money while doing it, that's the American dream. What are we doing, whose benefit is this for?"
Delta 8 surged in popularity after the perceived legalization—consumers enjoyed its lower psychotropic potency, decreased anxiety while using it and the peace of mind as a legal way to get high. So in order to protect their products and livelihoods, both Grassroots Harvest and Austin-based manufacturer Hometown Heroes are taking legal action.
Whyte said Grassroots Harvest is suing DSHS, saying their action is creating negative effects in the market. Meanwhile, a Hometown Heroes spokesperson said the company is in the process of filing a temporary restraining order that would pause the ban on Delta-8 in the state of Texas.
Threats against Delta 8 are not new—DSHS lost a lawsuit trying to make "smokable hemp products" illegal last year and Texas lawmakers had been considering a bill that would make Delta 8 illegal, though it was dropped after the clarification was made.
Hometown Heroes released a formal statement in response to the DSHS rule.
"I need to be clear—we love Texas, we're just choosing to fight for the will of the people in regards to cannabis in Texas," Hometown Hero CEO Lukas Gilkey said in a statement. "(Texas DSHS) are using backhanded ways to create legislation and go against the will of the people."
Whyte laments the fact that it would be easier legally to "open up a strip club that also sells guns," and said he can't post customer testimonials that mention the benefits of Delta 8 without getting hit with a cease and desist from the Food and Drug Administration. Whyte said he isn't opposed to regulation—far from it—he just wants to see it go through the correct channels.
"The fact that they're stunting our ability to communicate with our clients that want to learn about this, you're preventing us from communicating with them and teaching them, or spreading information that we know," Whyte said. "I think that that in and of itself opens up a lot of questions."
Grassroots Harvest still has Delta 8 products on its shelves for the time being but for how long, Whyte doesn't know.
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Austin Public Health and other clinics around Austin are now providing booster shots for all three vaccines, including Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, to fully vaccinated individuals after both Pfizer and J & J were approved by the CDC on Wednesday.
APH and Austin clinics, which were already administering the approved Pfizer booster, will begin distributing shots as soon as Friday.
Those who received the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine more than six months ago are elligble to receive a booster if they are over 65 or if they are over 18 and:
- Live in a long-term care environment
- Have underlying medical conditions
- Work or live in high-risk settings, such as schools, hospitals or correctional facilities
Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes said in a media Q&A Friday that APH is encouraging boosters just as much as they have urged residents to get their first and second doses.
"Boosters are incredibly important to keeping our community protected and hospitalizations low," Walkes said. "If we can stay on top of our vaccinations, we provide protections for our most vulnerable and make it that much harder for COVID to spread in our community."
Eligible residents are free to choose the same booster as their first doses or "mix and match," per the CDC announcement.
Those looking for another dose can simply bring their vaccination card to APH centers or the dozens of Walgreens and CVS locations in the metro, which began administering doses Friday.
Additional updated guidance from the CDC allows for all eligible individuals to choose which vaccine they receive as a "mix-and-match" booster dose. It is advised to remember to bring your CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Card showing the original doses with you when going for booster shots.
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