Patience has been key for thousands of Austin FC fans, as they've watched their club dominate its first two home matches but come out with goose eggs.
For their third match at home, Austin FC knew it was time to score as they took on the Portland Timbers, and they exceeded expectations with a 4-1 win over the Portland Timbers.
With bated breath, 20,000+ Austin FC fans rose to their feet as the club scored not once, but four times to secure their first home win with their largest margin of victory to date.
WHAT. A. NIGHT.
Austin, this one was for y'all! 💚🖤 pic.twitter.com/ZyNLFyUC64
— Austin FC (@AustinFC) July 2, 2021
When Jon Gallagher broke the ice with the club's first-ever home goal, gallons of beer droplets sailed in the air. Drumbeats from La Murga, for one second, came to a halt. The stadium lights turned a deep Verde, and Austin FC took their first win at home with a 4-1 victory over the Portland Timbers.
Four Austin FC players— first Gallagher, then Diego Fagundez, and finally Captain Alex Ring and Hector Jimenez— finally got the chance to scratch that scoring itch.
Gallagher said he didn't even watch his goal-scoring shot as it rolled into the net; he already knew, as he always does, that it was going in. Instead, he drew his head back in a signature Gallagher roar and let out weeks worth of pent-up energy.
"I was screaming so loud, I couldn't even hear," Gallagher said. "And it was just letting out all this frustration and a big sigh of relief."
Every Austin FC player wanted a piece of that first-goal pie. Fagundez, who had already made history as the club's first goal-scorer, followed Gallagher just seven minutes later with a goal of his own.
When asked which player has more bragging rights, Gallagher just shrugged, a small grin on his face.
Ironically, the same foot that scored the goal also took Gallagher out in the second half, and he was seen on crutches as the match wore on. Gallagher said he was finally able to take in the importance of the moment as he watched the final two goals of the match from the bench.
I was just sitting there trying to take it all in, big smile on my face," Gallagher said. "(I thought) wow, I really struck gold getting myself here."
Despite a poorly-defended Portland goal to end the first half, Austin FC dominated the stat board from start to finish. The club held 69.3% possession and had eight shots on goal to the Timbers' one. It was arguably many players' best match of the season, including Daniel Pereira, who was put back in the starting XI for the first time since his injury on May 23.
From Fagundez's ball-handling skills, to Ring's leadership, to Cecilio Dominguez's showmanship, the club operated like a well-oiled machine. Head coach Josh Wolff said it was great to see the camaraderie that has been growing for months culminate in a smooth victory on the field.
"That's what we want to see, those relationships to fit on field as well as off the field, because then you're fighting for your family," Wolff said. "That's when we know we're moving in the right direction because these guys killed themselves for each other tonight."
Here's a timeline of what happened at the most important match in stadium history:
80' Austin lands biggest lead of the season
Every Austin player is making a point to score tonight. As fans cheered "alright, alright, alright, alright, Austin FC" at a deafening roar, Jared Stroud sent an expertly-placed pass back to right back Hector Jimenez, who put his name on the board with a goal of his own.
With their biggest lead to date, Austin is making their home scoring debut unforgettable.
76' Austin makes it 3!
Let's goooooo! pic.twitter.com/pmMhTJZdRL— Austin FC (@AustinFC) July 2, 2021
Austin FC is full of firsts today: in the 77th minute of play, Captain Alex Ring brought a well-placed header into goal to make it 3-1 Austin for the first time since their breakout Colorado Rapids match in April. This is Ring's first goal with the club.
A sea of jumping Verde have never stopped their chants in the stands and get louder with every goal scored.
At the half: Austin dominates the stat board
Jon Gallagher is the first person to score at Q2 Stadium. (Austin FC/Twitter)
Two history-making goals aside, Austin FC is dominating the stat board, holding 66% possession and tallying four shots on goal to the Timbers' one. The floodgates have been opened, and fans are louder than ever. Still, overconfidence and a lack of focus led to a last-second Portland goal to end the half.
The Timbers technically have the momentum as the second-half whistle blows, but Austin, backed by historic goals and a scoring high, still has that 2-1 upper hand.
Historically (excepting that fateful Kansas City match,) Austin FC has produced even better second halves. Expect injections of energy from subs including Kekuta Manneh or Jared Stroud.
45+' Portland makes a last-minute first half goal
Just before the end of the first half, Portland's Jeremy Ebobisse capitalized on Austin FC's newfound confidence and drove one in to score. Austin failed to properly guard Ebobisse in the box, and the club is looking to refocus and keep the lead into the second half.
33' The dam has been broken. 2-0 Austin FC!
Looks like Gallagher won't be the only one to bring the stands to their feet tonight.
Less than 10 minutes after Gallagher made history with that first home goal, Diego Fagundez, who is already in the books as the club's first scorer, caught a ball pushing past the Timbers defense and brought one in himself.
Fagundez has doubled the lead, and Austin is dominating over their West Coast foes.
26' John Gallagher breaks the ice! 1-0 Austin FC
For the 14% of poll takers who chose Jon Gallagher as the club's first home scorer, you were right! Austin FC has threatened goal all night, as they did Sunday, and the club finally saw payoff in the 26th minute of play as the winger sank it into the bottom left corner.
Tomas Pochettino and Gallagher played back-and-forth down the right flank as they got past the Timbers defense, with Pochettino tallying the stadium's first assist.
8:40 p.m.- Kickoff begins with a bang
Austin FC started the show with a bang: during the National Anthem, red, white and blue fireworks worthy of a pre-July 4 match were set off in the sky. Just after, the crowd erupted into a "Stuv" chant as keeper Brad Stuver entered the pitch.
After kickoff proved just as eventful. Just three minutes in, DP Cecilio Dominguez was granted a free kick that was deflected by the Timbers defense.
8:30 p.m.- USWNT beats Mexico in sendoff
As the lights dimmed to a deep green before kickoff at Q2 Stadium, the U.S. Women's National Team match was played from the press box and watch parties around town.
The USWNT defeated Mexico 4-0 in the rain to begin their Send Off Series, which are the last set of matches before the Olympic Trials.
Next up, the USWNT will play Mexico once again on Tuesday, July 5 before prepping for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
7:45 p.m.- Austin FC starting lineup released
Austin FC is on the mend, and no new injuries were suffered at the hands of Columbus Crew on Sunday. Head coach Josh Wolff has made one notable change to the starting lineup: Daniel Pereira, the No. 1 pick in the MLS SuperDraft, is in for Jared Stroud.
It's unclear where Pereira will fit into the lineup. Will the club employ a 4-3-3 as per usual and put midfielder Pereira up top, or will they go for a different method as they attempt to score?
Hector Jimenez is back in for Nick Lima, who pulled his hamstring two matches ago against Minnesota United.
As always, Captain Alex Ring is dead center and star keeper Brad Stuver is holding it down in the back.
7:20 p.m. a panel of experts weigh in
The question everyone's been asking is burning in the minds of members of Austin FC fan groups, including La Murga de Austin instrumentalists Wiley Koepp, Brittany Koepp and Brian Hensley.
The well-versed experts said top contenders were Diego Fagundez, a fan favorite who scored Austin's first goal, and Cecilio Dominguez, the top-bill striker and Designated Player.
Regardless, the Koepp and Hensley trio agree that tonight is the night for that first home goal.
Who do you think will sink that first goal at Q2?
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Experience luxury grooming the old-fashioned way at a revival of the Driskill Hotel’s early 1900s barbershop put on by Austin-based Finley’s. The pop-up will offer men’s haircuts, beard trims, hot towels, neck massages and straight razor shaves. Click here to book an appointment.
9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday-Sunday | The Driskill Hotel, 604 Brazos St.
Catch veteran Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby touring with her newest show, “Body of Work,” written while she pondered the effects of the pandemic. Tickets are still available in the orchestra section, starting at $60.
Doors at 6 p.m. Friday | The Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave.
Alexander James O'Connor, AKA Rex Orange County, is returning to Austin to perform his newest album, “Who Cares?” Tickets are still available starting at $49 each.
Doors at 7:30 p.m. Friday | Germania Insurance Amphitheater, 9201 Circuit of The Americas Blvd.
Catch our local Minor League team play against the El Paso Chihuahuas at home this week. Tickets start at $22.
Starting 7:05 p.m. Friday | Dell Diamond, 3400 E Palm Valley Blvd.
Enjoy a night of indie-pop from Grammy-winning producer Jack Antonoff, whose stage name is Bleachers, from the intimacy of Stubb’s. Tickets are still available starting at $33.Starting 7:05 p.m. Saturday | Stubb's Waller Creek Amphitheater, 801 Red River St.
Catch the groovy, Bastrop-born brothers are taking their rightful place on stage with soulstress Latasha Lee at Antone’s. Arrive early, seating fills up quickly! The show is 21+ and tickets start at $15.
Doors at 7 p.m. Saturday | Antone's Nightclub, 305 E 5th St.
Famous former Longhorns Emmanuel Acho and Matthew McConaughey are joining forces for a Q&A about catching greenlights and living a limitless life. Each ticket will get the holder a copy of Acho’s new book, “Illogical: Saying Yes to a Life Without Limits.” Tickets are $39 per person.
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Over a year after they took the stage for the first time in Los Angeles, Austin FC returned to Banc of America Stadium to snatch the No. 1 spot from LAFC in a 2-1 statement win late Wednesday night.
Austin FC, which has flirted with the top spot in the MLS West this season, has now solidly reached the summit just a year after its second-to-last first season finish. The new top dogs are now 7-2-3 overall.
Here's a look at three highlights from the match:
Flashback in LA
For many Austin FC fans and naysayers alike, the match was more than a fight for the MLS West throne: it also served as a symbol of how far the team has come.
The two clubs first met on the Banc of America pitch as Austin FC saw its first game and first loss all at once in a 2-0 battle last April. It was an exciting but shaky start to the club's first season, and the loss seemed to set the tone for the rest of its inaugural year as the club dipped to second to last in the conference.
If Austin's first season was hallmarked by its first match, then its second-year success was foretold by its back-to-back five-goal victories to kick off the season.
Since then, the club has battled its own first-year shadow, claims of "bonus games" and a few unexpected obstacles—both on and off the pitch—but it has almost always come out on top.
That fight to the top was fully realized Wednesday, even as the club played its toughest opponent yet. Even with a man down in the middle due to Daniel Pereira's red card last game, the club kept its cool through even the trickiest moments of the match. Jhojan Valencia, who patched the Pereira hole in midfield, got his first MLS start and first MLS assist as Ruben Gabrielsen scored the first goal of the game.
Gabrielsen came to Austin FC as a potential hero for the team's center back position, but the club's resident Viking has already nabbed two goals in his first season with the team.
"That's center forward material," Austin FC announcer Adrian Healey said as Gabrielsen took control of Valencia's pass, paused to fake out the defense, and calmly tucked the ball into the left corner to complete the first goal of the match.
Even as LAFC dominated possession for much of the match, Austin FC saw another wide-open goal opportunity crumble as midfielder Diego Fagundez's shot hit the corner goalpost in the 23rd minute.
But Fagundez wasn't finished. The midfielder was short on his Verde hair dye but full of surprises as he nimbly sunk a shot over LAFC defense to make it 2-0 with 10 minutes to go.
Fagundez, who has spent more time setting up goals for his teammates (becoming the No. 1 assister in the MLS in the process), finally took the center stage with his second goal this season.
Owen Wolff, head coach Josh Wolff's own son, had a scoring opportunity of his own foiled by the goalpost as he started his first MLS match as one of the youngest starters in the league this season.
But Austin FC wouldn't score again; instead, LAFC powerhouse Carlos Vela made the win a bit trickier in the 86th minute as he got past Austin keeper Brad Stuver to cut the lead in half. The other Wolff quickly subbed in a five-prong defense as the club kept steady for the final 10 painstaking minutes to win the match.
BONUS: Stuver's career-making match
Six saves on the night in LA for Brad Stuver! 🚫 pic.twitter.com/02V6hcUd3Y— Major League Soccer (@MLS) May 19, 2022
After two weeks on the bench due to a knee gash, Austin's star keeper Brad Stuver had the Stuver-iest match of all time (yes, we're making it a word) as he pulled off six saves to help his team to No. 1.
Stuver looked like a pinball machine as he pulled off save after save with his feet, hands and body to keep it nearly 100% clean on the back end.
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