Q2 Stadium is an undefeated fortress no longer.
After a fiery 4-1 breakthrough win, Austin FC saw history repeat itself and suffered their first loss at Q2 Stadium at the hands of LAFC.
Much like their first bout with the Los Angeles club, Austin lost steam midmatch as their undefeated streak came to a close. Two more dismal injuries put the already-thin home team's midfield out of whack, and a series of mistakes near goal kept the club scoreless once again.
LAFC is now 2-0 against Austin. The match is Austin FC's first loss since ending their seven-match road streak in June.
Midfielder Tomas Pochettino was the first to go down for the Verde and Black and wasn't on the starting XI for the first time this season due to what head coach Josh Wolff called a "minor" abductor injury. In his stead was hometown hero Kekuta Manneh, the only player with Austin ties.
Manneh helped the team put forth early starting efforts in the first half as Austin got out to a characteristically hot start at Q2 Stadium.
We're spreading the love tonight. Close one from @kekuta16. 😅 pic.twitter.com/bz7OQCj7Bf
— Austin FC (@AustinFC) July 8, 2021
Just one minute in to play, midfielder Daniel Pereira was given a yellow card for charging after LAFC player Eduard Atuesta. It was one of many falls for the Los Angeles team, a few of which were rewarded with yellow cards for both Julio Cascante and Zan Kolmanic. Emotions would run high and LAFC would take increasingly dramatic tumbles as the match wore on.
Like clockwork, another fateful injury turned the tides of the match as Pereira fell himself in the 35th minute. Wolff said that Pereira sustained an unspecified abdomen injury, and he became the eighth current Austin FC player out on injury.
With Jon Gallagher out too on an injured foot—the same one that he used to score Austin's first home goal against Portland last week—Wolff was forced to piece together a lineup with the team's youngest and least experienced crew.
Wolff said it's always hard to recover from injury, especially when there seems to be at least one a match.
"It's unsettling when....you miss out on some real key players," Wolff said. "I think we saw last week what those guys brought to the game."
LAFC had the ball between its feet for only 40% of the match but stayed efficient. In the 25th minute, it seemed star player Carlos Vela had put Austin FC at a deficit for their first time at their home stadium, but a foul was called and the goal was called off as thousands at Q2 cheered.
It didn't matter for long, though, as Jose Cifuentes got a rare ball past keeper Brad Stuver and put LAFC up 1-0.
Cifuentes finishes on the rebound and @LAFC lead in Austin. #ATXvLAFC pic.twitter.com/BwQZIYTRr6
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 8, 2021
The opposing team wouldn't put a lid on the match until one minute was left, when Stuver saved a ball in a one-man-show but was quickly beat out on the second try from star striker Diego Rossi.
There's the dagger!
Rossi buries it and @LAFC lead 2-0 late. #ATXvLAFC pic.twitter.com/As2mOn9eiC
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 8, 2021
Still, it was clear where the match was going as Austin reverted back to scorelessness.. Austin's offense, which ran like a well-oiled machine just a week prior, stumbled without their steady midfield, and the club looked sloppy as they fought to get in goal.
With the 22-and-under crew as some of the club's only available starters, Wolff said it'll get competitive in practice as they enjoy a two-week hiatus from MLS matches.
"We're going to continue to need guys to come in as starters and as reserves and give us a lift when we need it," Wolff said. "There's certainly going to be more repetition."
Austin's bones will get a rest as they focus on rest and repetition for the next few weeks, but the club will still hit the pitch on Tuesday, July 12 as they play Liga MX's Tigres in a friendly at Q2 Stadium.
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A $500 million mixed-use development spanning 1,400 acres is coming to Southeast Austin, near Tesla’s headquarters at Giga Texas.
Plans for the development by Houston-based real estate firm Hines include 2,500 houses along with multi-family and townhomes, and commercial land. Hines is partnering with Trez Capital, Sumitomo Forestry and Texas-based Caravel Ventures.
The development, which is known as Mirador, will be located off the 130 Toll and Highway 71, which the developers say provides easy access to the Circuit of the Americas Formula 1 racetrack and other Austin attractions like restaurants, parks and live music venues.
Hines also boasts amenities like a 60-acre lake, over 600 acres of greenbelt, community parks, trails and a swimming pool.
“As Austin continues to grow into the tech epicenter of Texas, coupled with a supply-constrained market, the demand for new housing is at its highest,” Dustin Davidson, managing director at Hines, said. “Mirador will be critical in providing more options for Austin’s growing population and we are excited to work alongside our partners given they each provide a unique and valued perspective in single-family development.”
The local housing market has been hot in recent years, with home sales accelerating earlier in the pandemic. In July 2021, the Austin metro area hit its pricing peak at $478,000. As Austonia previously reported, the area has been expected to see the Tesla effect, with the new workforce driving up demand for housing and other services.
The single-family houses are expected to be developed over the course of six years, in phases. Construction on the homes is expected to start this year and home sales will begin in 2023.
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Editor's note: This story summarizes Sports Illustrated's story detailing Michael Center's involvement in the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal, based on interviews with SI's Jon Wertheim. Additionally, Austonia received comments from Michael Center, included in this story.
Confined to his couch, former Longhorns tennis coach Michael Center praised his players via FaceTime after the program he built produced the Longhorns’ first national championship in 2019—a bittersweet moment as Center faced federal charges as part of the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal.
His name dragged through the mud, Center was fired, arrested by the FBI and sentenced to six months in a Central Texas federal prison after pleading guilty to two charges related to mail fraud. And over a year after his release, Center told Sports Illustrated he doubts he was the only one in burnt orange involved.
When the Varsity Blues scandal broke out to the public in 2019, the investigation was a perfect storm for nationwide attention: Hollywood glamour, blue blood conspiracy and faith in the tried-and-true American education system came to a head as 33 movie stars and other elites were found guilty of paying more than $25 million to pave their children’s way into eight colleges, including the University of Texas.
UT was one of eight schools caught in the college admissions scandal. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
The figure behind Varsity Blues, “college consultant” Rick Singer, would plead guilty to four felony counts for faking SAT scores and bribing coaches at prominent universities for his elite clients—but not before throwing Center under the bus.
Singer's client, private equity executive Chris Schaepe, was looking for a way to bend UT's tight admissions policies for his son, who was seeking a position oddly as a manager on UT’s basketball team. Through a middleman, Singer contacted Center, who eventually agreed.
Schaepe's son hadn't played tennis since his freshman year of high school. It was a detail that Center says passed through plenty of hands before he was admitted, including "academic support staff, the compliance office, the sports supervisor and, ultimately, the athletic director," SI's Jon Wertheim writes.
No one in the entire athletic department, including seven "risk management and compliant services department" employees, was named, implicated or punished. After an internal investigation, Center was the only one named in the Varsity Blues "subterfuge" in a September 2019 UT news release signed by the university president.
He told Austonia he was never contacted by the university during the investigation, and when the NCAA interviewed him for its investigation, he says it cleared him of any violations.
“I almost fell out of my chair,” Center said. “I literally couldn’t breathe. There’s no college coach in America—much less at a state school, much less a coach of a nonrevenue sport—who can admit an athlete without consulting other people in the athletic department. What they were asking people to believe, it’s just impossible.” SI said Center's assertion was backed by multiple UT coaches and administrators at other schools.But why would the Forty Acres be complicit?
Center said UT’s then newly named athletic director Steve Patterson made clear that Center suddenly was responsible for more than building a successful tennis program. He was to be a "fundraiser first and coach second" and he would need to find donors to fund a new tennis facility. Patterson admitted to SI that he wanted his coaches to find donors and said the department was "$15 million in the red" when he started in 2013, though he denies any knowledge of the false tennis recruitment.
Center said he knew he would be "considered a team player" if he let in the son of a Silicon Valley magnate. And sure enough, Schaepe immediately began pulling out his wallet, donating $100,000 to UT tennis and a six-figure check to the school's communication program.
"I never entered this as a way to profit. This was a fundraising mission where I made a terrible mistake at the end,"
Months after Schaepe's son was admitted, Center agreed to meet Singer at the Austin airport and found himself accepting a backpack filled with $60,000 in cash meant for him, personally. He said he immediately knew he had made a mistake. He told SI “I put the money in my basement and gave most of it away.”
“Why did I do it?” Center told Sports Illustrated. "I go to bed and wake up each day asking myself the same question. I had to convince myself that I somehow deserved the money."
Once in court, Center showed texts with UT's compliance official and mentioned Chris Plonsky, a department executive involved in "overseeing men’s tennis, compliance, academic support (which generates letters of intent) and the Longhorn Foundation," according to SI.
“I knew I had to answer for my guilt,” Center said. “But I was like, 'Man, schools are going to get hammered.'"'
INMATE 77806-112 but out on Sunday: Actor Felicity Huffman in prison uniform outside low-security Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin to visit actor husband William H. Macy & their daughter. Huffman admitted to paying $15K to have fixer boost daughter’s SAT score. 📸: @TMZ pic.twitter.com/9jALmqnA0U
— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) October 21, 2019
But Center was the only Longhorn to go down for the crimes. “I was no rogue actor,” Center said. “And this wasn’t my word against their word. There were signatures that went along with it. That’s the system... There wasn’t one point in the process where I thought people wanted to learn the whole truth.”
Back at home in Austin, Center watched as actress Felicity Huffman served just eleven days for her part in the scandal. Some served up to five months; others simply paid a fine, and others, like Singer, await sentencing.
And because the prosecution chose to blame individual coaches, framing schools as victims in the case, universities like UT have received less than a slap on the wrist for their possible involvement.
“I was always taught that actions have consequences,” Center said. “What I’ve come to realize is that, yes, for some people actions absolutely do have consequences. Serious, heavy ones. For others, actions can have no consequences at all.”
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