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Despite 'dream team' lineup, Austin FC fails to score in 1-0 loss out West

Austin FC suffered another shutout at the hands of Real Salt Lake after injuries and a red card marred their hopeful comeback. (Austin FC/Twitter)

As Austin FC worked past the halfway mark for their inaugural season, the club suffered their 11th shutout of the season despite a new "dream team" starting lineup—including Designated Players Tomas Pochettino, Cecilio Dominguez and Sebastian Driussi—as they fell 1-0 tp Real Salt Lake on the road on Saturday.


A controversial red card and two injuries, including an apparent ankle injury for Driussi, marred an offensively-minded start for the club.

With Driussi leading attacks and Dominguez, Pochettino and Diego Fagundez not far behind, the team entered the Salt Lake pitch with their most offensive lineup to date. An early cross from Pochettino got the ball rolling near goal as Austin led with 57% possession, and Fagundez nearly got one in of his own after his shot was blocked by the post.

Shortly after a Pochettino header that went just awry, Salt Lake's Bobby Wood got one in for the home team as his strategically-placed header bounced past Austin keeper Brad Stuver in the 31st minute.



A red card for Austin FC defender Julio Cascante left the team with 10 players for the rest of the match, and an injury for fellow defender Zan Kolmanic further set the team behind the home club.

Head coach Josh Wolff called out match referees after the match and said the red card call was a "laughable" mistake.

"There wasn't one," Wolff said. "I tried to talk to the official afterwards, and all you always hear is that he's got to go look at it up top. But you know, it's there's a few real questionable things happening out there, and I know we're the expansion team...It was laughable."

Captain Alex Ring had some criticism himself for the ruling, especially with technology including the video assistant referee (VAR) and commended the team's performance with 10 men left on the field.

"The league tries to silence the players by fining us and I don't give a shit about that right now," Ring said. "I think it needs to be said because we have VAR for a reason. I think we put a hell of a fight...we work so hard and then in the end we we don't come away with a winning result, it's tough."

Despite another highlight-worthy performance from Stuver, the club would be unable to recover from their deficit for the remainder of the match.



After a week of criticism for his cautious lineup decisions in their 2-0 FC Dallas loss, Wolff may be under fire once again from frustrated fans after the team's most recent shutout.

Wolff said he understood fans' displeasure with the team's performance.

"That's criticism that is certainly warranted," Wolff said. "We're not scoring goals, we're not winning games. We're aware of what this game is about, and the need to get results."



The team is now back at the bottom of the West after scoring the fewest goals in the season and have been shut out for two-thirds of their performances this season.

Austin FC will have the chance to redeem the loss with a comeback home win as they take on the similarly troubled Vancouver Whitecaps at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Q2 Stadium.

31' Real Salt Lake scores

Real Salt Lake's Bobby Wood does what Austin FC couldn't as he gets his hands (rather, his head) on a header of his own. The strategic header bounces off the ground before making it past Stuver and into Austin FC's goal.

The goal breaks a scoring streak for Salt Lake as Austin FC attempts to end a short scoreless bout of their own.

27' Fagundez blocked by the post

Though not a Designated Player, Austin's Diego Fagundez does not want to be forgotten as a key scoring threat. With three goals on the season, Fagundez has forever cemented his name in Austin FC history and looked to do it once more as his shot just ricocheted off the bottom left goalpost.

Pochettino tried to save the play after Jimenez sent him a cross, but his close-range header couldn't quite get in goal.

19' Stuver stays on-brand

Brad Stuver's goalkeeping performances are like Groundhog Day. The All-Star contender consistently keeps scoring threats at bay in goal, and today is no different. Stuver blocks a close-range shot from Real Salt Lake's No. 1 scorer, Toni Datkovic, after the home team's Aaron Herrera places a well-positioned cross. Stuver's highlight reel continues.

Austin keeps their confidence in the box

Austin FC has no trouble making it near goal, but things tend to get tricky once they make their way into the box. With more hands on deck, Austin is finally holding their own in front of goal.

In the fourth minute of play, a cross from Pochettino became the team's first good look of the game, and teammates Hector Jimenez, Dominguez and others have chipped in as well. The club is staying on-brand as they hold 56% over Real Salt Lake, and Driussi is proving his worth as a formidable attacking option as the team continues to threaten goal.

Wolff stacks starting lineup

Anti-Wolff sentiment and general frustration has grown in the Austin FC Twitterverse in recent weeks after the team's admittedly "cautious" approach that led to a 2-0 loss to FC Dallas next week.

Wolff has flipped the switch this week, however, with Sebastian Driussi likely up front in his first start with the team. He'll be flanked by Cecilio Dominguez and Diego Fagundez on either side.

The midfield has been stacked as well: Pochettino, who scored two goals in the team's last home match, will take the pitch once again, while Daniel Pereira will start for the second week in a row and stronghold Alex Ring will remain the team's center of gravity in the middle.

Austin FC's defense remains unaltered, and stronghold Brad Stuver will work for another shutout in goal.

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‘Like speed dating of cats’ at Purr-fecto Cat Lounge
Purr-fecto Cat Lounge

Lina Martinez with her newly adopted cat, Emmanuel, who she renamed Sullivan.

Timmy and Tommy are ready to play.

As the 2-month-old white-and-tabby brothers swat feather wands, chase toys and generally hold court inside Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, a half-dozen potential adoptive parents look on lovingly, trying to get their attention.

“This is kind of like the speed dating of cats,” said Lupita Foster, owner of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge. “I intentionally didn’t put in any tables. That’s why we call it a lounge instead of a cat café because we have these lounge areas where you can sit and relax and cuddle.”

Foster, who has owned a cleaning company, Enviromaids, for 18 years, was inspired to open Purr-fecto Cat Lounge after adopting her own cat, Romeo, from a local shelter.

“When you want to adopt a cat, you have to spend a lot of time with them to get their personality,” Foster said. “I wanted to do something to help the community and something that makes me feel good, that warms my heart. A business with a purpose. This was a perfect idea.”

Actually, a purr-fect idea.

Inspired in part by a cat lounge she visited in Los Angeles, Foster began laying the groundwork for the business in late 2021 and officially opened the doors of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, located at 2300 S. Lamar Blvd., in July 2022. Since then, she’s worked with rescue organizations such as Fuzzy Texan Animal Rescue and Sunshine Fund Cat Rescue to facilitate nearly 100 cat adoptions.

At any given time, there are 10-15 cats living in the space, which features an ideal blend of calm, cool corners and adorably Instagrammable backdrops with phrases such as “I want to spend all my 9 lives with you.”

Lina Martinez, 32, learned about Purr-fecto Cat Lounge from a friend’s Instagram post and made an appointment to visit two days later.

“My first impression was, ‘AWW!’” Martinez said. “The kittens were to die for. I felt happy and at peace – just what I needed.”

Visitors to the cat lounge pay $15 for a 30-minute CATXperience session or $30 for a 70-minute session that is spent getting to know the personalities of each cat. Foster said the first thing she typically sees from visitors to the lounge is a smile.

“Everybody that enters the door is smiling,” she said. “And we’ve seen people who have cried because they can’t have kids and they decide to go and adopt a cat instead.”

Foster said she loves bringing in cats who might not have a chance to be adopted at traditional shelters. She told the story of one cat named Izzy, who was partially blind, who was adopted by a family that had a deaf cat at home.

“Izzy was not going to get adopted anywhere else, but she’s extremely beautiful,” she said. “If she was in a cage in a rescue and you tell people she’s blind, she was probably going to be overlooked. But visiting our space, she doesn’t seem like she’s blind. She knows her way around. She moves around perfectly.”

Although Martinez, who had been casually looking for a pet to adopt since moving to Austin nearly four years ago, was interested in a cat named Ruby that she had seen on Purr-fecto’s social media, at the lounge she instead found herself drawn to 5-month-old mixed breed Tuxedo cat.

“I thought he was a star,” she said. “He worked the room and introduced himself to everyone. When I laid down to pet Ruby, he ran from the other side of the room and cuddled with me. It was game over. He got me.”

And she, of course, got him, complete with a commemorative photo that read “My Furrever Family” the day she took him home. Although his original name was Emmanuel, she renamed him Sullivan after her favorite DJ.

“Purr-fecto is special because of the amount of effort and love they put into taking care of the cats,” Martinez said, “and finding them good homes and making possible adopters feel at home.”

Foster, who spent a recent Thursday hosting a group of teenagers in foster care at the lounge, several of whom expressed interest in working there, said the best part about her new endeavor is that her heart is always full.

“I just feel complete,” she said. “I always felt as an entrepreneur that I was missing something. I knew I accomplished a lot, but in my heart I was missing a little connection with the community. Now I’m creating connections between humans and pets and that’s amazing. I’m creating family bonds. It’s just about love, you know. And we need that.”