Despite near 100-degree heat, Austin FC's sunny four-week win streak was clouded with a shaky start and disputes between the club and supporters' groups as Austin lost 1-0 to LA Galaxy on Sunday.
With the loss, both Los Angeles teams are threatening to dethrone No. 2 Austin in the MLS West. Austin FC continues to edge out the Galaxy and has the second-most goals in the league behind its No. 1 opponent LAFC.
Here are three takeaways from the match:
The Dominguez dispute
While star forward Cecilio Dominguez didn't take to the pitch Sunday night, his influence was felt throughout the stadium as an uncharacteristic silence fell upon the Q2 Stadium supporters' section for 10 minutes of the match.
The team's two fan clubs halted their signature chants in response to Dominguez's return to the Austin FC roster Wednesday. Dominguez was suspended from the club for a month as the league conducted an investigation into an Austin police call alleging "verbal and emotional abuse" from Dominguez to his ex-partner on April 8.
APD did not continue the investigation, and Dominguez's ex-partner did not pursue any charges. But both fan clubs Austin Anthem and Los Verdes have taken a stand against Dominguez's continued presence on the team and domestic violence as a larger issue within the community. Fans held up banners for domestic violence hotline SAFE Alliance Austin and a Verde and Black banner demanding "No more silence."
A founding member of the Verdes Against Domestic Violence committee, who did not want to be named due to the sensitive subject, said the moment of silence was made to raise awareness to fans who don't know about the situation and highlight the severity of verbal emotional abuse while giving back to the community.
"We can use our voices or the absence of our voices to create an impact, so that's what we're doing," they said. "For us to be able to take this very difficult thing and turn it into something positive for our community was really important to all of us."
A gritty game
Austin's smiley, fun-loving playing style of recent weeks was dashed in the grueling 1-0 loss, especially as a turnover led to a long-distance Galaxy goal in just the sixth minute of play.
Austin FC's Ethan Finlay's quick ball recovery accidentally set up LA's Mark Delgado for a shot outside the box, which ricocheted off the post past keeper Andrew Tarbell to become the only goal of the match. Tarbell, who took over after star keeper Brad Stuver suffered a leg gash last match, also had two saves in the game.
The game was clearly going in the Galaxy's favor, partially due to Austin FC errors and turnovers, until Austin recovered its possession-heavy playing style in the second half. Despite a dominating first half for Galaxy, the Verde and Black finished off the game with 55.2% possession, 13 shots and two near-misses, including an off-the-post free kick from MLS' top goalscorer Sebastian Driussi.
The trials ahead
So close to an equalizer from Driussi! pic.twitter.com/QFktGSJEXa— Major League Soccer (@MLS) May 9, 2022
Even as Austin FC rose to the top of the standings, many skeptics said the team's early success boiled down to "bonus games" against low-ranking teams.
If Austin's opponents were "bonuses" before, the opponents ahead are the opposite. The Verde and Black are 1-1 against higher-ranking teams with the loss after an eighth-place Houston Dynamo win April 30. The club will hit the road for a matchup against No. 5 Real Salt Lake before returning to take on LAFC—the top team in the league—in Los Angeles four days later on Wednesday, May 18.
The Verde and Black will hope for Stuver's recovery and more standout performances from scorers Maxi Urruti and Driussi as it looks to keep up that near-perfect record.
BONUS: Verde hair, don't care
The prophecy has finally come true.
Austin FC fan favorite Diego Fagundez has sported dark hair, bleached looks and even an "LV" fade for fan club Los Verdes, and he said from the start that Verde wasn't off the table.
"You never know," Fagundez said last April. "It might go green someday."
Fagundez fulfilled that promise with a new neon green hairdo at the Sunday match.
- Austin FC's Cecilio Dominguez returns after MLS investigation ... ›
- Austin FC's Cecilio Dominguez under MLS investigation amid abuse ... ›
- Details: Austin FC player Cecilio Dominguez's MLS suspension ... ›
- Austin FC is No. 1! Austin takes home MLS West title in 2-1 LAFC win - austonia ›
- Austin FC is No. 1! Austin takes home MLS West title in 2-1 LAFC win - austonia ›
- Austin FC earns a chaotic home draw to Orlando City SC - austonia ›
- Austin shatters June heat record with 21 days of 100-degree highs - austonia ›
By Jonathan Lee
The Planning Commission was split Tuesday on whether to help save an eclectic lakefront estate from demolition by zoning it historic amid concerns over tax breaks and the likelihood that a previous owner participated in segregation as a business owner.
The property in question, known as the Delisle House, is located at 2002 Scenic Drive in Tarrytown. The main house, with Spanish and Modern influences, was built in 1923 by Raymond Delisle, an optician. A Gothic Revival accessory apartment was built in 1946. The current owner applied to demolish the structures in order to build a new home.'
Historic preservationists, for their part, overwhelmingly support historic zoning, which would preserve the buildings in perpetuity. The Historic Landmark Commission unanimously voted to initiate historic zoning in July, citing architectural significance, landscape features and association to historic figures. City staffers recommend historic zoning, calling both structures one-of-a-kind examples of vernacular architecture.
Tarrytown neighbors have also banded together to stop the demolition. Many have written letters, and a few spoke at the meeting. “How could anyone buy this property with the intent of destroying it?” Ila Falvey said. “I think it’s an architectural treasure.”
Michael Whellan, an attorney representing the property owner, said that the claims made by preservationists are shaky. The buildings are run down, he said, and have had substantial renovations. A structural engineer hired by the owner said any attempt at preservation would involve tearing down and rebuilding – an undertaking Whellan said would likely cost millions.
Whellan also argued that any historical significance derived from the property’s association with Delisle and longtime owner C.H. Slator is dubious. “These men are not noted for any civic, philanthropic or historic impact,” he said.
What’s more, according to Whellan, Slator likely participated in segregation as the owner of the Tavern on North Lamar Boulevard between 1953 and 1960.
A city staffer, however, said she found no evidence to support the claim. “We would never landmark a property where a segregationist lived, or there was a racist person,” Kimberly Collins with the Historic Preservation Office said.
Commissioner Awais Azhar couldn’t support historic zoning in part due to lingering uncertainty about Slator. “Focusing on that factor is not here to disparage an individual or family. It is not about playing the race card. This is an important assertion for us to consider as Planning commissioners,” Azhar said.
Commissioner Carmen Llanes Pulido said that allegations of racism should come as no surprise. “We’re talking about white male property owners in the 1950s, in Austin, on the west side – and of course they were racist,” she said. But she argued that allowing the house to be demolished based on these grounds does nothing to help people of color who have been harmed by racism and segregation.
The question of tax breaks was also controversial. Michael Gaudini, representing the property owner, said that the tax breaks associated with historic zoning would exacerbate inequality by shifting property tax burdens to less affluent communities. City staffers estimate that the property, appraised at $3.5 million, would get either a $8,500 or $16,107 property tax break annually, depending on whether a homestead exemption is applied.
Commissioner Grayson Cox preferred the commission focus not on tax breaks but on whether the structures merit preservation. “To me, nothing in the historic preservation criteria lists, is this person deserving of a tax break or not?”
Azhar, on the other hand, said he plans to propose a code amendment getting rid of city property tax breaks for historic properties.
The commission fell one vote short of recommending historic zoning, with six commissioners in support and three opposed. Azhar and commissioners Claire Hempel and Greg Anderson voted against.
The odds of City Council zoning over an owner’s wishes are slim. Nine out of 11 members must vote in favor, and there have only been a handful of such cases over the past several decades.
What's new in Austin food & drink this week:
- Nau's Enfield Drug closing after losing their lease. Did McGuire Moorman Lambert buy the building, with its vintage soda fountain?
- Nixta Taqueria Chef Edgar Rico named to Time Magazine's Time 100 Next influencer list, after winning a James Beard Award earlier this year.
- Question: From what BBQ joint did pescatarian Harry Styles order food this week?
- Austin Motel is opening the pool and pool bar Wednesday nights in October for Freaky Floats.
- Vincent's on the Lake closing due to "economic conditions and low water levels [at Lake Travis]."
- Cenote has closed its Windsor Park location. The East Cesar Chavez location remains open.
- The Steeping Room on N. Lamar has closed.
- Local startup It's Skinnyscored new financing for its gluten-free pasta business.
- P. Terry's opened a new location in Kyle, at 18940 IH-35.