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Fortress no more: LAFC snuffs out Austin FC flame at Q2 Stadium

Austin FC's Kekuta Manneh is getting his first start in front of his hometown crowd at Q2 Stadium. (Austin FC/Twitter)

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.

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 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.

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.

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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