Despite a troubling first half, Austin FC held strong to its home fortress as the Verde and Black took their first draw of 2022 in a 1-1 game against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday afternoon.
Echoes of last season's woes haunted the Verde and Black as its hot start appeared to crumble to start the match. But thanks to a second-half goal from Diego Fagundez, the club saw a late spurt of energy to stay alive and stay undefeated at Q2 Stadium.
Here are three takeaways from the match:
1. Austin played its worst half yet—then kicked it into gear
Make no mistake—even with a not-so-troubling scoreline, Austin FC revealed some very worrying signs for much of the match.
Austin FC's new era of quick, snarky passes and hustle plays shone through in the first 10 minutes of play. But that new home-game Verde confidence gave way to clumsy errors, slow reactions and a lack of cohesion for the rest of the first half.
Seattle used that to their advantage, making four scoring attempts and holding the ball hostage to threaten Austin's goal before Seattle's Will Bruin broke through with a close-range tap to score in the 43rd minute of play.
Austin left the first half resembling its near-last place self last season. The Verde back line, which shone in last week's Portland match, struggled to keep up with a pressuring Seattle offense, while striker Moussa Djitte and the rest of the starting offense couldn't quite capitalize on any chances at goal.
But fans who switched on the TV for the second half saw a different story. Austin FC put up a fight in the match, and their 21 shots (eight of which were on target) were stopped time and time again from the near-impenetrable Seattle keeper Stefan Cleveland.
The club's improvement this season was especially seen in Austin's resiliency, head coach Josh Wolff said. The club, which struggled with endurance and a "second-half curse" for much of its first season, bounced back and never stopped attacking, logging 22 crosses and nine corner kicks in the match.
"Right away, I think there's a different mentality, there's better leadership... more character and resolve," Wolff said after the match. "You know you're in a good place when your guys are fighting and competing in training, and there are some fights going on. And that's a sign of a good team."
2. Diego is the drumbeat of the team
For the first time since last September, Diego Fagundez didn't take the pitch as a starter for Austin FC this match.
And it showed—the winger, who was Austin's first goalscorer and has become the unsung hero for the Verde and Black, scored Austin's sole goal of the match in the 73rd minute to change the trajectory of the game.
"It's a physical group, so I wanted to have some sort of presence in there that could get on the end of things and hold things up," Wolff said on subbing out Fagundez and fellow starter Maxi Urruti. "Some verticality and physicality are what we wanted, knowing the game was going to probably slow down a little bit...it's nice to have depth, and those guys came in and performed."
Both Fagundez and fellow starter Urruti injected new energy into the match as they subbed into the match in the 57th minute of play, something Fagundez said they were eager to do from the bench.
"We know that we were hungry to go in, no one wants to sit on the bench," Fagundez said. "But at the same time, we know at some point everybody's going to have to, and we knew that when you're on the bench you need to bring energy to the game and change it... I think everybody who came into the game made an impact, and I think if we had five or six more minutes we could've won this game."
Despite starting out as an underdog, Fagundez tied for the most goals scored last season (7) and has scored 61 goals in his 300+ career appearances. He'll be needed more on the pitch than off of it for both his skills and spirit if the team hopes to advance to the playoffs.
3. Can Austin beat the big boys?
Live view from the south end! 🗣 pic.twitter.com/BalcGz77OA— Austin FC (@AustinFC) March 20, 2022
Austin FC wowed the league with back-to-back five-goal matches to kick off its season. But none of that matters if the club can't get points on the board against their own conference teams.
The Verde and Black easily beat FC Cincinnati and Inter Miami, and they did make history with those goal-heavy scores—but that's exactly what they were supposed to do against two teams that have never pushed past the bottom tier of their conference.
Since losing 5-1 to Austin, Inter Miami has scored just one more goal and sits at the bottom of MLS East with three losses and a draw. FC Cincinnati has already been more successful than seasons past, but that's not saying much: the team has drummed up two wins and two losses to reach the middle of the conference.
Austin played against two big guns in Portland and Seattle, and neither match proved who was the better team. The club will need to get some stats on the board as it embarks on a five-match stretch of slightly easier opponents in April before it can prove it deserves to sit with the best in the West.
- Austin FC makes MLS history at Q2 Stadium with five-goal Inter ... ›
- Austin FC falls 1-0 at Portland Timbers in first MLS 2022 loss ... ›
- Austin FC beats FC Cincinnati 5-0 in first 2022 match at Q2 Stadium ... ›
- What fans new and old can expect for Austin FC's second season ... ›
- Guide to Austin FC's Q2 Stadium this 2022 season - austonia ›
- Austin FC gets 'sentimintal' with new minty fresh jerseys - austonia ›
A scooter-rider died this weekend after being hit by a vehicle in South Austin.
On Sunday night, Austin-Travis County EMS reported a collision at the intersection of Interstate 35 southbound service road and westbound East Ben White Boulevard.
At 10 p.m., EMS said an adult with critical injuries was being prepped for transport to St. David’s South Austin Medical Center. Minutes later, medics pronounced the adult dead at the scene.
Austin has seen a spate of scooter crashes resulting in injuries and fatalities recently. Amid these incidents—which include a couple of recent crashes downtown where micro-mobility use is a common sight—the Downtown Commission has called on the city to employ stricter regulations.
- Austin Ems - austonia ›
- Two hospitalized downtown in second Austin scooter crash in two ... ›
- Unagi debuts scooter subscription service in Austin - austonia ›
- Scoobi moped service coming to downtown Austin - austonia ›
- Downtown Commission proposes stricter regulation of Austin's ... ›
- Death, Injury & Debris. Should Austin kick scooters to the curb? ›
- Downtown Commission - austonia ›
South-Central Texas is having its hottest May in over a century.
Heading into the end of the month, the National Weather Service reported that the region is seeing its warmest May in over 125 years. This comes just a few months after the area saw the hottest December on record.
And though storms hit Austin last week, the record-setting temperatures are accompanied by drought conditions.
In May, Austin normally gets 4.7 inches of rain. With two days left this month, Austin has only gotten 2.3 inches, according to Andrew Quigley, a meteorologist with the NWS.
“It's kind of one of those months that we rely on to get precipitation,” Quigley said. “So obviously, it's less than ideal that we were so far below normal this month, because May just generally tends to be wetter, and then we tend to dry out kind of moving into the summer.”
Quigley added that the summer will likely bring precipitation conditions similar to May's.
\u201cWith no additional rain expected before the end of May, it's safe to say it was a dry meteorological spring. Rainfall amounts ranged from less than 2" (<25% of normal) in northern Atascosa County since March 1 to just under 10" in eastern Williamson & far SW Dimmit counties.\u201d— NWS Austin/San Antonio (@NWS Austin/San Antonio) 1653871383
But don’t count on the heat letting up anytime soon. Heading into the summer, Austin is seeing a 50 to 60% chance of having above normal temperatures.
If you like getting outside this time of year, there are some practices to keep in mind to stay safe.
“It's important that you're drinking enough water and that you're taking breaks in between your time outdoors to get inside, cool down and give your body the rest it needs,” Quigley said. “It can sneak up on you quickly, how strenuous the heat can be and the toll it can take.”