Remember that first match? The ultimate rematch is on at Q2 Stadium as Austin FC takes on LAFC for the second time at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Back before the club's first goal, before the injuries and before their triumphant 4-1 breakout win at Q2 Stadium, Austin FC lost 2-0 to LAFC at Los Angeles Banc Stadium for their first-ever match.
When they first faced the Los Angeles club, Austin was nearly injury-free. They were also goalless and lacked a solid starting lineup as they faced off against a club that was projected to be at the top of the Western Conference. Now, LAFC sits at No. 5 in the West and has just one win on the road, while Austin's long scoreless streak was recently snapped by Jon Gallagher and crew at Q2 Stadium.
Austin will be looking to keep their momentum rolling as they take on LAFC at home. Here's how that could go down:
What to expect
While Austin has Gallagher, Diego Fagundez and Cecilio Dominguez to thank for their goals, LAFC relies on another trio. Corey Baird, Jose Cifuentes, and Diego Rossi have tallied three goals each at the top of LAFC's attacking lineup and make up nine of the club's 13 goals this season.
2019 MVP winner Carlos Vela, the club's star player, was "accidentally" subbed out 20 minutes into their season opener against Austin and didn't return until late May on injury. The man who scored 52 goals in his first 66 MLS regular-season games has just one goal to his name this season so far, but he's quickly whipping back into shape. Vela's lone goal came against FC Dallas on June 24.
Even as the club sits lower in the standings than usual, Austin FC Head Coach Josh Wolff said they're still a potential threat. "They haven't put up the numbers that they typically put up, but they're still very dangerous," Wolff said.
While they've won half of their home games, LAFC is less lucky on the road and has a 1-3-1 away record.
Meanwhile, Austin is riding a high after their 4-1 win against Portland that saw not one, but four players make those first goals at Q2 Stadium. The club is on the mend as well, but six players remain out of play indefinitely, including Gallagher.
Despite only scoring in one of their first three home matches, Austin FC has dominated every club that has played at Q2 Stadium. Wolff said he hopes to see more confidence around the goal after a successful home stretch.
"We played really well in our three home games: good energy, good intensity, really good mentality how we come out and try to drive and dictate the game," Wolff said. "And last game we were rewarded with some goals... (so) hopefully it helps give our group confidence."
Projected starting lineup
Austin has not had the luxury of a solid starting lineup this season, and they'll likely see a new set of faces this match as well. Gallagher's foot injury means another man is needed up top. Jared Stroud is likely in alongside Dominguez and Fagundez as he tries to crack his first goal.
Hector Jimenez, who got a goal of his own in last match, is still in for an injured Nick Lima on right back, and Daniel Pereira is likely back in the starting XI after a stellar performance against Portland.
Wolff said having Pereira flanked behind Fagundez has helped elevate the club's quality of play even as the club continues to sort out injuries.
"Having Diego and having Danny Pereira back obviously helps, it gets two really quality players out on the field... and now you really start to see the game come to life," Wolff said. "They have personality and character, and we continue to learn about these guys as well."
Where to watch
If you've got the golden ticket, good for you! Click here for a guide to matchday fun.
For everyone else, some tickets are still up on SeatGeek, but there are also plenty of watch parties for those looking for the gameday hype as well.
Here are a few options around town:
Pregame fun at The Rustic Tap, 613 W. 6th St.
RBKD will be live at The Rustic Tap on West 6th for an @AustinFC pregame watch party!— The Horn FM (@TheHornATX) July 6, 2021
The guys will be live until 7pm with $5 Michelob Ultra pints
More Details Here: https://t.co/VhbrGvpkF6 pic.twitter.com/7idJnNIALK
For some before-match fun, catch the guys at The Horn give a pregame analysis at The Rustic Tap with $5 pints of Michelob Ultra from 3-7 p.m.
The Lustre Pearl South, 97 Rainey St.
The @AustinFC Vs. LAFC Watch Party is happening TOMORROW (7/7) at Lustre Pearl South. We've teamed up with @karbachbrewing to make this happen - see you all there!— Do512 (@Do512) July 6, 2021
Enter to WIN a VIP table here: https://t.co/rspSCE0QWg pic.twitter.com/qDBAwwcfex
Karbach Brewing and Do512 have teamed up to provide a watch party at The Lustre Pearl South with drink specials, giveaways and more. The party starts at 6:30 p.m., two hours before kickoff.
Beer hall watch party, Easy Tiger 1501 E. 7th St.
We are hosting an @AustinFC watch party at @EasyTigerATX east this Wednesday evening at 7:30pm! Come join us at the new indoor beer hall and eat delicious pretzels! You may even get a pretzel for free..... 🥨🍺⚽️ #austinfc #soccer #losverdes pic.twitter.com/hkihrq0hnG— Stuff to Do in Austin (@StufftoDoinAus) July 5, 2021
Grab a (possibly) free pretzel and enjoy Easy Tiger East's new indoor beer hall as you watch the guys play starting at 7:30 p.m.
Austin Anthem at Circle Brewing, 2340 W. Braker Lane
Ready to— Austin Anthem (@AustinAnthem) June 27, 2021
✅Beat the Crew pic.twitter.com/wBzPunte4D
For every home match, Austin FC supporters' group Austin Anthem celebrates before, during and after the match at Circle Brewing, a brewery just steps away from Q2 Stadium.
Los Verdes at Hopsquad Brewing, 2307 Kramer Lane
Just feet away from Circle Brewing, Hopsquad Brewing serves as the official HQ for Austin FC supporters' group Los Verdes and will be packed with the same all-day music, beer and fun as those next door.
Austin FC Pub Clubs
For those looking to watch the match in the comfort of your neighborhood bar, check out these 30+ Pub Partners that play every match, home or away.
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Actor, director and screenwriter Justin Theroux isn't the only famous member of his family. His canine companion Kuma made waves online this past weekend supporting Austin Pets Alive!—and Jennifer Aniston is a fan.
Theroux launched Kuma's own Instagram account on Saturday with a link to Austin Pets Alive!'s website in her bio. And the grey pitbull mix is already garnering the kind of attention worthy of her movie star dad: As of Monday night, she has over 55,000 followers.
Chief among them is Jennifer Aniston, who posted a photo of Theroux and his newly online dog on her Instagram story yesterday with fond words for the Austin shelter.
"Love what these two are doing to help people who help pups who help people," the 'Friends' star, and Theroux's ex-wife, wrote. "They helped save 60 pups at Austin Pets Alive! yesterday."
Theroux began volunteering at the shelter while filming 'The Leftovers' in Austin when he fell in love with the shelter's pitbulls, according to Dr. Ellen Jefferson, Austin Pets Alive! president and CEO.
"We are thrilled that he and Kuma are spreading the word about the work APA! is doing and the need to keep Austin no-kill," she said, referring to the shelter's commitment to save animals most at risk for euthenasia.
Theroux adopted his mut in 2018 after Kuma was rescued—dirty and injured—from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey by A Chance to Bloom Dog Rescue, based in Conroe, Texas.
While Kuma is not from APA!, Theroux connected with the Conroe-based non-profit while visiting the Austin shelter, and he has remained "an enthusiastic supporter" ever since, Jefferson said.
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Six days a week, thousands of onlookers tune in to live streams to watch the pros rake it all in at high-stakes poker tournaments. The big-name poker players aren't in Las Vegas or even Oklahoma's finest casinos—instead, they're where Texas Hold 'Em gets its name.
Gambling may be illegal in Texas, but over a hundred poker houses are using a loophole to open up shop across the state, especially in Austin and Dallas.
The classic poker game is finally getting played for real cash around the Lone Star State thanks to an exception in Texas' gambling ban that allows poker games to be played in private residences. Instead of taking a cut from the pot like traditional gambling ventures, private poker houses don't make money from the results of a game; instead, they get their revenue from membership and hourly fees.
It's a business strategy that's gone (mostly) unchallenged by Texas politicians, especially as the industry begins to heat up.
Austin may now have around 20 poker houses around town, but it wasn't long ago that one stood alone like a small town saloon. The city's premiere poker house, Texas Card House, was founded in 2015 and has since grown to include a YouTube channel with over 30,000 subscribers, a wide range of gameplay and regular visits from big-name poker gurus like Brad Owen and Doug Pope.
David Lagana, a content creator who has worked in college sports and Hollywood, was brought into the scene in May as the house's live streams began to blow up. He said the live streaming battleground is only beginning.
"The space is ever-growing," Lagana said. "It's been interesting to try and find a lane that everybody can succeed. It's all about finding something that people want to watch on a nightly basis."
Can Player BLUFF Andrew Neeme and Brad Owen on LIVE Stream?
Watch now - https://t.co/4Wt4s5Z0V7@TheBradOwen @andrewneeme pic.twitter.com/Yg4R0c0sj2
— Texas Card House (@texascardhouse) August 25, 2021
Carolyn Hapgood, who has worked for Texas Card House for three years, has made a name for herself as a live stream producer, dealer and player herself with the company. She's seen Texas Card House grow from a two-room card house to the most well-known poker venue in Austin with another branch in Dallas.
"It was a teeny tiny little house with five tables, and that was the first legal card house in the state," Hapgood said. "And since then it's blown up."
Texas Card House dealer Carolyn Hapgood has been working with Austin's premier poker house since 2018. (Texas Poker House Austin/Facebook)
From $100 pots to buy-ins of $15,000 or more, Texas Card House has it all, especially as in-state players learn more about the game. Hapgood said there isn't really a typical poker player at the house—instead, the poker table forms an "interesting little ecosystem" that includes college students, a 93-year old Vietnam War veteran, online gamblers, old-school players and everyone in between. The diversity at the table has been enhanced even further by COVID as people clamor to return to in-person events.
But Texas Card House no longer holds a "royal flush" in Austin's poker culture. The Lodge, based in Round Rock, is now expanding to over 60 tables, the largest in Texas, while Palms Social Club, owned by Texas Card Houses' original owner Sam Von Kennel, brought service staff and a refined atmosphere to the Austin scene.
Hapgood said the base of poker players is very large and continues to grow, forming a community as players form friendships on and off the table.
"My favorite part of the poker community is how much fun we have," Hapgood said. "You sit at a table with eight of your friends, everyone's kind of just having a good time. There's a lot of players who will, you know, call or text each other after they're done playing, and they end up inviting each other barbecues, and going out to dinner with their families and stuff like that... those are my favorite people to hang out with."
Getting involved in the poker scene is as easy as tuning into a live stream, and Lagana hopes to see more outsiders like himself get inspired by poker in the future.
"It's kind of like life," Lagana said. "Life isn't just one hand to play... you're only in control of sort of what's in your hand (and) you can't play the card that you weren't dealt with. So it's really been a fascinating life lesson for me."
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From four-time Grammy-nominee turned big-screen actor, Black Pumas frontman Eric Burton will debut in the sci-fi short film "Devexity," which is written, directed by and stars Austinites.
The film, brought to life by Austin-based filmmaker Luke Lidell, will premiere on Oct. 7 at the Native Hostel while Burton is in town for Austin City Limits Fest. Then, "Devexity" will head off to film festival screenings, according to a report by The Austin Chronicle.
Following Burton as the film's protagonist, named Jean, "Devexity" takes place across several different settings and surfaces an existential response from the watcher. Burton stars alongside fellow Austinites Ali Pentecost, Dominique Pitts and New Yorker Madison Murrah in the partially black-and-white film.
The film was shot over the course of four days in October 2020, which Lidell said was a challenge of "focus" and "trust" to create. With a variety of scenes and intertwining narratives, the film dives into the topic of virtual reality.
A musician in addition to a filmmaker, Lidell previously directed the film "Telekinetic" in 2018. The script for "Devexity" was written by Lidell with Burton in mind for the lead after meeting him during a music video project in 2017—Lidell said Burton helped him shape the characters along the way.
Now that the door has been opened for work between Burton and Lidell, you're likely to see the pair collaborate again—a Black Pumas documentary is being rumored.
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