Fresh off its 3-2 win in Washington, D.C., Austin FC will see a much closer foe this week. The team is preparing for an I-35 battle with its neighbors, San Antonio FC, in the U.S. Open Cup this Wednesday at San Antonio's Toyota Stadium.
The Lamar Hunt Open Cup, which is the longest-running soccer tournament in the United States, is a single-elimination tournament that pits teams in both professional and amateur leagues against one another.
It's the first tournament of its kind since 2019—and by the luck of the draw, Austin is facing its rival city in more ways than one on Wednesday.
A spurned San Antonio
I don't think you can count Austin FC vs San Antonio FC as "Just another game".— Colton McWilliams (@ColtonBMc) April 19, 2022
I think a lot folks here in San Antonio are still mad not just that they were passed up for the MLS bid but how they were passed up. It really rubbed folks the wrong way especially considering...
From tacos to sports teams, it's no secret that Austin and San Antonio have bickered over their reputation as Central Texas hubs since before South Congress was, well, South Congress.
And San Antonio and Austin were pitted against each other once again in Major League Soccer's search for a new soccer club.
According to a Texas Standard article, in 2015 Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff (aptly named, considering Austin FC's future head coach Josh Wolff) confidently announced the city and county's $19 million deal to buy Toyota Field and convert it to an MLS stadium.
“It will be a great benefit to all the citizens of our community as we move forward to bring Major League Soccer to San Antonio,” Wolff said.
Seven years later, and the stadium isn't home to an MLS franchise. Instead, that future team will enter Toyota Stadium as Austin FC, and San Antonio is still feeling like it got the short end of the deal.
Austin's first major league sports team has been the fruitful reward of a long-fought battle, and it's now enjoyed by thousands of fans across the city. But Austin never filed for an application to the league, and San Antonio did.
“Despite that, the league kept showing up here, and kept having conversations about their interest in being here,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said.
While it's hard to propose that Austin didn't deserve a professional sports team, or that Austin's ardent supporters shouldn't be wearing their team's Verde and Black, a San Antonio's spurned MLS deal may add an extra element of passion to the Open Cup match.
Still, many Central Texas futbol fans can agree that another MLS team would be welcomed by San Antonians and Austinites alike.
On the pitch
Saturday was monumental. 🌳 pic.twitter.com/cqnMhAW3Ff— Austin FC (@AustinFC) April 18, 2022
While this match won't count toward Austin's run for the playoffs, it will give bragging rights to whichever team is deemed the best in Central Texas.
As the Major League Soccer club in the equation, Austin FC has the advantage over San Antonio FC, which plays for the lower-division United Soccer League. The Verde and Black has found a fresh face after its first season, scoring three goals in ten minutes for a momentous D.C. United road win Saturday. Austin is currently second in the MLS West and has lost just one match this season.
Hot off of three straight wins, the near-undefeated San Antonio is currently third in the USL West and features a familiar face in former Austin FC forward (and former Austin resident) Kekuta Manneh.
Both clubs look to be in top form as they enter the third round of the Lamar U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday. The winner of the Interstate battle will enter the Round of 32 starting May 10-11 and join the winners of other Texas battles including FC Dallas vs. FC Tulsa and Houston Dynamo vs. Rio Grande Valley FC.
Tickets and tournament details
Want to attend the match? Tickets are going for as low as $24 for the match, which will kick off at 7:30 p.m. at Toyota Stadium. Get those tickets here. If you can't make it in person, the match can be streamed live on ESPN+.
If Austin FC advances, it will continue on its journey to win the 2022 U.S. Open Cup. The stakes are higher than just a trophy: winners will also receive $300,000 in prize money, a berth into the continent-wide 2023 Concacaf Champions League.
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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.”
We all have those cravings for an amazing butter chicken or some authentic dosas with coconut chutney, but when I was thinking about where I wanted to go to satisfy my taste buds I realized that my list of great Indian food around Austin was surprisingly short. After doing some research and asking around, here is your list of the best Indian restaurants around town.
This restaurant claims to have the most authentic South Indian food, and from what I've heard, the claims might be true! Their menu features the traditional South Indian dishes of Idlis, Vadas, a variety of Dosas, and more.
If you're looking for an Indian and Tex-Mex fusion cozy restaurant, then look no further! Nasha on East 7th Street prides itself on its specialty margaritas, Tikka con Queso, Biryani, and more creative dishes!