No Djitte, no problem?
Austin FC won't be bringing in new scoring recruit Moussa Djitte in time for Thursday's match against the Seattle Sounders, but the well-rested crew is hoping they won't need him to topple the No. 1 MLS team.
Even with two weeks without MLS play and one week since a friendly match against Liga MX club Tigres, Austin is struggling to nurse their injured roster back to health. Striker Jon Gallagher, the first-ever scorer at Q2 Stadium, is still limited in training, as is young midfield standout Danny Pereira. Meanwhile, Austin's young subs proved they could hang with the best—but probably not win—as they lost 2-1 to the Tigres.
Refocused but not fully healed, the club will strive to one-up their last performance against the Sounders, which saw their first scoreless draw of the season.
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What to expect
Scenes from Seattle.— Austin FC (@AustinFC) May 31, 2021
Don't miss the second half on FS1 and Fox Deportes. pic.twitter.com/RAhzv1S9er
While Austin is sitting on a record 1-2-1 at home, Seattle has just one loss to their name this season, which is the lowest in the conference.
As they head to Austin for the first time, the formidable club is coming off of their first stumble of the season: a 1-0 loss to Minnesota United. Still, Seattle's 13-match win streak was the best in club history, and leaders Raul Ruidiaz in the front and Nouhou in the back are propelling the team to back-to-back standout matches. Ruidiaz is tied with the famous Chicharrito (LAFC) for the most goals this season (10), while Yeimar Gomez Andrade leads the league in interceptions with 41.
Meanwhile, Austin has shown hot-and-cold performances in their new home fortress, including a breakout 4-1 win against the Portland Timbers and an injury-laden 2-0 loss to LAFC. Some MLS newbies have had to start earlier than expected as starters including Jon Gallagher, Nick Lima and Danny Hoesen continue to be out on injury.
The scoreboard may have shown a 0-0 result, Austin metaphorically won the David and Goliath battle vs. the Sounders when the club visited Seattle in May. Now, the club is armored with a new advantage: 20,000 cheering Verde fans in a crowded home stadium could help the club overcome their injury woes and push forward with a historic win.
Head Coach Josh Wolff said the club will need to use their home-court advantage to keep the momentum during the match.
"Playing at home, being aggressive, having the energy and pushing the tempo, it's extremely important," Wolff said. "We've got to get the goals."
Projected starting lineup
Some starters are still out, but Austin FC is likely to see a familiar lineup with some recovered players, including Captain Alex Ring, back in the mix.
Up top, Rodney Redes could be making his first MLS start in weeks after he tallied the lone goal versus the Tigres on July 13. Wolff said Redes is making a comeback after a "ding" set him back early in the season.
"There's been a real noticeable uptick for Rodney again," Wolff said. "Getting him back to feeling fit and sharp and confident was a big part of it."
Pereira and Gallagher are unlikely to play in the match. In their stead will most likely be winger Jared Stroud and midfielders Tomas Pochettino and Diego Fagundez. Fan-favorite Fagundez has been driving the tempo for much of the season and has been rewarded for his hustle with two goals, while Pochettino edges closer every match to finally getting one goal in himself.
Austin FC will face the Seattle Sounders at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday at Q2 Stadium.
Know before you go!
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It's been a few weeks since a viral TikTok revealed poor working conditions at the Montopolis Dollar Tree in southeast Austin, and employee Maggie Lopez is still feeling its effects.
Lopez was filmed working alone at the location May 1 in a since-deleted video that saw 2.9 million views and over 450,000 likes.
In the video, stacked boxes littered the floor, shelves were left unstocked and a leaky, broken air conditioning unit welcomed customers into the understaffed storefront.
@trishmartinez32#x_bazan06#fyp#fypシ#tiktok#friends#like#comment#4upage#4u#share#viralvideo#trending#wow#4upageシ♬ original sound - Patricia Martinez
Lopez, who now works at the dollar store's Springdale location, says she was left with the aftermath of a 90-hour workweek, lost wages and a mystery illness after the store closed a few days later.
"Nobody ever told me... that there was no air conditioning. They didn't tell me there was danger of getting robbed," Lopez told Austonia. "Nobody said anything... they didn't care."
The location didn't shut its doors because of the TikTok exposure: instead, an AC unit specialist doing routine maintenance found employees working in extreme heat and said it was too hot for employees to continue working.
"To operate a business, you have to have your temperature within a certain parameter," Ikaika, the specialist who didn't disclose his full name to protect his job, told Austonia. "As soon as you walk in, you start sweating... it's not good at all."
Lopez said working in 90+ degree heat became the norm in her two months at the location as air conditioning units remained broken for months before the closure. She added some employees, including her former manager and several customers, passed out in the store due to the heat. But she said company leadership remained unresponsive.
Lopez said she sent her district manager, Veronica Oyervides, screenshots of 90+ degree temperatures inside the store. (Maggie Lopez)
Four days after the air conditioning repairman told employees they should no longer keep working at the store, Lopez said her district manager, Veronica Oyervides, was asking her to come back in to prep the location for reopening. Lopez worked May 8 in the shuttered store prepping it for a reopening, which has yet to happen. Oyervides has declined to comment.
Ever since she started working in the deteriorating Dollar Tree, Lopez said she often wakes up with nosebleeds. She said she's constantly thirsty, her hands shake, and she's experiencing headaches and mood swings—symptoms she believes are due to long-term exposure to mold.
Former assistant manager Linnea Bradley told Austonia she has been hospitalized with symptoms linked to heat and stress after working at the store.
"We are sick and corporate does not give a shit," Lopez said. "What kind of damage did these stupid units do to our bodies?"
Lopez hasn't sought care for her symptoms. She says she makes $13.50 an hour and doesn't have health insurance.
Former employees have more complaints than just the heat: Lopez said that personal safety became a concern in the understaffed store. Catherine, a former employee who wished to only reveal her first name, said she's witnessed large-scale theft and instances of mismanagement in her months as a stocker at the location.
"They have no security, no cameras... they don't want you to have anything in writing," Catherine told Austonia. "It's just complete chaos."
Catherine said that she and other hourly employees were given zero hours for weeks on end as managers, who work on salary, were left to run the store alone from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day. She said some managers became so desperate they were hiring homeless people to help stock shelves in exchange for a drink and a bite to eat.
While Catherine (top, middle) often had zero-hour weekly schedules, Martinez, who was paid on salary, worked back-to-back 90-hour workweeks. (Catherine) (Claire Partain)
"They actually did have people willing to work, they just refused to give them hours," Catherine said. "I'm not understanding whether Dollar Tree wants to go under... are they doing this as a tax break?"
Other Austin Dollar Tree locations have reported similar issues. Former manager Jonathan Martinez, who says he was supposed to work 45 hours a week, says he was racking up 90+ hour workweeks and sleeping in the store as he shouldered both the Montopolis and William Cannon locations while his newborn baby was in the ICU in March.
Martinez kept extra clothes in this office after working seven-day weeks at two Dollar Tree locations. (Claire Partain)
Martinez said he slept on boxes as he juggled the job and visiting his newborn in the ICU. (Claire Partain)
Martinez said he slept on boxes as he juggled the job and visiting his newborn in the ICU. (Claire Partain)
"As long as the store stays open, there are corporate people getting bonuses," Martinez, who quit last week after receiving a $100 annual bonus, told Austonia. "Six months ago, when corporate people had a shitload of bonuses, that's when they upped the price (of everything in the store from $1 to $1.25)."
In the six months since Dollar Tree hiked its prices to $1.25, it's gained plenty of mostly negative national attention. In February, the Food and Drug Administration shut down an Arkansas distribution plant due to a massive rodent infestation, and several lawsuits have ensued. The company has also come under fire for selling allegedly expired over-the-counter medicine and its worker shortage at locations across the country.
One employee, who still works for Dollar Tree and wished to remain anonymous, said that they've seen or heard that many area locations are near their breaking point.
"I've seen the good, the bad, the bad to worse," they said. "And it's always a rinse repeat kind of thing... How many more (stores) will go? And what about the employees?"
"Every time I would tell (Oyervides) 'I'm just going to close, I can't stand it anymore,' she would say, 'No, no, no,'" Lopez said. "And I'd be so upset because why? They have my paycheck. It's just been mortifying... the most horrible year of my life."
Dollar Tree's regional director did not respond to requests for comment from Austonia.
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Grab a helmet and get active this morning by celebrating Bike to Work Day alongside the city.
The community will gather for a celebration at Austin City Hall starting at 8 a.m. with free tacos, coffee and giveaways.
A few things to remember around bikes:
- Over 80% of bicycle crashes happen at intersections
- It’s important to wear reflective clothing during dark hours
- Drivers should keep a distance—take at least three feet of space when passing.
Residents can find the most comfortable, safe bike routes via the 2022 Austin Bike Map, or rent a MetroBike with the code B2WD2022.