Life is good for Austin FC.
The team is 3-0 in preseason scrimmages, has just moved into the multi-million dollar St. David's Performance Center and is gearing up for a true Texas rivalry at La Copita starting this weekend.
At his weekly preseason press conference, Head Coach Josh Wolff said the team's been "waiting for this moment" as they finally make themselves at home at St. David's.
Feels good to be here. pic.twitter.com/U4AYNq0whP
— St. David's Performance Center (@StDavidsPC) March 28, 2021
"This is their workspace, this is their safe space, so there's a real flow to the building," Wolff said. "I think the players really enjoy being here, and they know they have a first-class facility, and that excites them every day when they come to work next."
The team has already shut out two USL teams in preseason, but a much bigger challenge awaits this weekend. The team is set to play at their practice center for the first time as they face Lone Star rival Houston Dynamo at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
With over three weeks of training behind them, Wolff said the team has found consistency and identity as a team. They've also switched from focusing on an offensive strategy to implementing their defensive structure, something that Wolff said will be important as they go up against prominent West Division teams like LAFC, the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers.
"By no means do I expect us to have the ball the entire game," Wolff said. "We'll continue to work on defensive structure. Going to LA, against Seattle and Portland, these are good teams that operate at a high level and we want to be one of those teams when we have the ball and when we don't have the ball."
While they've found consistency in their weeks on the grind, Wolff said that the La Copita matchups will help the team secure their first-ever starting lineup.
"We're going to have to start defining who our starters are and really start locking in how we prepare for our first games of the season," Wolff said. "These are the games that will allow us to do that. And then that'll help shape our decisions come April 17."
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Many players have been praised by Wolff by now, including Alex Ring, Tomas Pochettino and Kekuta Manneh. This week's standout is Designated Player Cecilio Dominguez, a powerful forward who Wolff says brings both life and competitiveness to the group.
"He brings real character and quality to the group," Wolff said. "He's got a lively personality, he's super charismatic, but when he plays he competes, and those are things that you hope for as a coach."
After the home Houston match, the team will get a taste of travel as they head up I-35 to play FC Dallas for their first-ever away match.
"Dallas gives us a great opportunity to do a bit of a dress rehearsal of what it's like to travel," Wolff said. "We've got three games in seven days, so we're going to use the entire squad in different ways."
While the La Copita matches are closed to the public and media, they will be streamed on the brand-new Austin FC and Q2 Stadium app, available on the iTunes App store and Google Play store.
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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!