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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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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