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With Jhohan Romana and Daniel Pereira's injuries against Nashville SC on Sunday, Austin FC has now tallied seven injuries (two recoveries) in its six-week existence.
The club is also losing confidence as it hits the road—for the seventh week in a row—to play West Conference giants Seattle Sounders on Sunday.
But it's not time to throw in the towel.
Austin FC is currently seven weeks in to the hardest stretch of matches they'll see this season. The club hasn't had a weekend at home since preseason play in early April and has played No. 2 (West) Kansas City, No. 3 (West) LA Galaxy and No 4. (East) Nashville. Austin even scraped up a win against Minnesota and No. 5 (West) Colorado Rapids as they await their first-ever home match on June 19.
Here's some insight into the underdog fight at Seattle this weekend.
What to expect
There's no beating around the bush: Seattle is good. The Sounders are one of three undefeated clubs in MLS this season (another one being the Nashville club Austin FC faced last weekend) and they have the best record in the league. They're hot off the best start in club history and the 11th-best start since MLS began.
The club has steamrolled competition by trailblazing a 3-5-2 lineup and utilizing a Roldan-to-Ruidiaz pipeline to get the ball in goal, though they've got plenty of other attacking options. Christian Roldan is key to the middle: though he hasn't got the stats, he's ranked at fourth on the MLS' MVP Power Rankings for a reason. Roldan and his brother, right back Alex Roldan, account for three assists for the club as they bring the ball up to Seattle's No. 1 goalscorer, Raul Ruidiaz.
Ruidiaz is only behind Chicharito in goals scored this season, with six goals so far and 12 shots on target. Meanwhile, Nouhou Tolo heads the back of a Sounders defense that is just as strong as the front.
The team has had some of the same injury problems as Austin FC—namely, the injury of Designated Player Nicolas Lodeiro—but Christian Roldan told Sounders Weekly podcast host Jackson Felts that the transition has gone well.
"We're a hard team to score on, and that will always keep you in games," Roldan said. "Not conceding any careless goals and on top of that having a forward that's in form right now....It's really been seamless," Roldan said.
Roldan said that it will be difficult to face an Austin FC side that has an "organized defense" and is "well-coached," but Austin will be threatened on multiple fronts this weekend. Seattle has outscored its competition 10 to 2 and scored four goals off of crowd-raising headers in the past four matches. They've already beaten rivals in the LA Galaxy and Portland Timbers, and they'll be looking to keep their undefeated streak as they head into the weekend.
Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff said it will come down to sticking to the process but creating more dangerous chances in goal as they continue their hardest stretch of the season.
"We all want to win, and we set ourselves up and we compete in a way that we hopefully will go out there and win," Wolff said. "But I don't need to create any undue pressure on anybody based on what media is saying. So my version of it is we have to keep getting better."
Projected starting lineup
Austin FC saw yet another defender injury after center back Romana left the match early last week. The back line giant will likely not face the Giants of the MLS.
Romana's absence is the latest in a string of injuries that have weighed down an ever-changing back line, and Wolff said both he and midfielder Pereira are "certainly injured" heading into the match.
"It's going to take a little time," Wolff said. "It affects how we can train and certainly what our starters will look like, but it's part of the game. Certainly not afraid of what we have that can come in and play."
Wolff vaguely implied that fans shouldn't count on Romana or Pereira next week. Instead, Julio Cascante, who has started for Matt Besler in the past, will likely get a crack at the Starting XI this weekend. Meanwhile, Diego Fagundez, the man behind Austin FC's first goal who has scored twice this season, is likely to start in Pereira's stead in the middle. Roldan said that Fagundez is a player who has "been thriving" in Austin.
In the highly-contested right wing position, I expect Rodney Redes to take the pitch once again. Redes has slowly become more dangerous after suffering a "ding" to the knee at the end of preseason, but he's got competition in Jared Stroud. Stroud would have been looking at the first goal with the club in Nashville after he snuck one in goal, but the ball was called offsides. Still, the winger has added two key assists to the program and always provides much-needed energy when he hits the pitch.
Wolff was noncommittal on whether he'd start Stroud or Redes in right wing, so it could still go either way.
Luckily in the front, striker Jon Gallagher is back from injury to sit atop the pitch with Danny Hoesen. Because Wolff said he had one of the best chances of the game last match, Hoesen is likely to still start as both lack the punch to get many in goal.
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Texas voters are split on whether Gov. Greg Abbott should run for a third term and whether Matthew McConaughey should run at all. But Democrats are clear: they want to see Beto O'Rourke on the ballot.
These are the findings of a Quinnipiac University poll of registered voters released this week.
Abbott and McConaughey received the highest favorability ratings of the elected officials, candidates and potential candidates, according to the Quinnipiac poll.
- Abbott: 49%
- McConaughey: 42%
- O'Rourke: 34%
- Former Texas GOP Chair Allen West: 25%
- Former Texas senator and Republican challenger Don Huffines: 8%
Overall, 48% say Abbott does not deserve to be reelected to a third term compared to 46% who say he does. "A Trump favorite in a state that is turning less red in recent election cycles, Abbott has a decent but in no way overwhelming grasp on reelection," Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy said in a press release.
Abbott, McConaughey and Beto O'Rourke could vie for governor in 2022. (Office of the Texas Governor)
Voters are also divided on Matthew McConaughey, who is reportedly considering a gubernatorial run. Forty-one percent of voters say they would like to see him run, compared to 47% who say they wouldn't.
The poll found that Democrats and Independents favor the Oscar-winning Austinite, whose party affiliation is unclear. Forty-seven percent of Democrats would like to see him run, compared to 43% who wouldn't. Forty-four percent of Independents would, compared to 43% who wouldn't. Republicans, on the other hand, say 60%-29% they would not like to see him run.
Another possible candidate is former U.S. Representative and presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke, who is also reportedly mulling a bid. Overall voters say 52%-41% they would not like to see him run for governor. But 77% of Democrats and 50% of Independents would, according to the poll.
"McConaughey and O'Rourke may still be on the fence, but their numbers suggest they have the attention of voters," Malloy said in the same release.
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Austinites will soon be able to train like some of Hollywood's biggest stars as F45, a fitness franchise backed by major celebs, like Mark Wahlberg and David Beckham, is on its way to Austin.
F45 listed Austin as the location of its corporate headquarters in a June 21 federal filing—a big shift for the California company. The fitness franchise is preparing for its initial public offering, which will be as an Austin-based company.
F45 will be one of many California companies—Tesla, Oracle and Samsung—that have recently expanded in the Capital City. The company has several famous investors on its side—famed basketball player Earvin "Magic" Johnson and golfer Greg Norman in addition to Wahlberg and Beckham.
The fitness company is opening a 44,000-square-foot headquarters, located at Penn Field on 801 Barton Springs Road, with a lease running through 2029. F45 was one of the early adopters of Austin-based real estate-technology platform AnthemIQ, helping tenants find commercial real estate.
F45 focuses on one-on-one 45-minute workouts, which patrons watch on in-studio displays. With 2,247 franchise agreements spanning across 63 countries, F45 also has offices in Australia and England.
"We believe this flexibility will enable us to capitalize on our estimated long-term global opportunity of over 23,000 studios," the company said in its filing.
The greater Austin area already has 11 F45 locations, which take up 1,600 square feet of space each.
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The staffers are coming! Texas Lege staffers turn to Twitter after special session announcement, defunding
Texas Legislature staff members have taken to social media to raise awareness—and also just air their misfortunes—following the summer special session announcement and their own defunding.
In a game-seven-type move by Texas Democrats, the 87th Texas Legislative session was capped off by a last-minute walkout to avoid a final vote on a bill that would add restrictions to voting.
Needless to say, Gov. Greg Abbott—who cheerleaded the bill throughout the legislative session—was not thrilled.
Not up to date on your Texas Lege drama? Abbott was pointing to when former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis staged a dramatic hours-long filibuster over a 2013 abortion bill, which the public gallery aided. The "story" Abbott is referring to ended with him and other prominent conservatives sweeping the 2014 statewide election and the bill passing in a special session.
According to Abbott, the regular session centered around supporting "hardworking Texans and building a state that is safer, freer, healthier, and more prosperous."
However, the two items deemed at the top of Abbott's wish list for this session—election integrity and bail reform—did not reach his desk at the end of the session, both championed by Abbott to be "must-pass emergency items."
"It is deeply disappointing and concerning for Texans that neither reached my desk," Abbott said in a statement. "Ensuring the integrity of our elections and reforming a broken bail system remain emergencies in Texas, which is why these items, along with other priority items, will be added to the special session agenda."
Abbott said he expected lawmakers to work out their differences prior to the special session and continue to pass other emergency items and priority legislation.
So, everything is cool, right? No worries?
Hours before the no vote, as the clock ran out on the bill that he championed, Abbott tweeted that he would veto funding for the entire state legislative branch. The decision would impact not only Texas lawmakers but their staff and aides. "No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities," Abbott tweeted May 31.
I will veto Article 10 of the budget passed by the legislature. Article 10 funds the legislative branch. No pay… https://t.co/KNyuNvxP55— Greg Abbott (@Greg Abbott)1622484820.0
With pay, health insurance and other support for staffers on the line, the threats became a reality on June 18 with an official veto of the funds from Abbott.
The veto effectively nixes all funding for the legislative branch.
"Texans don't run from a legislative fight and we don't walk away from an unfinished business," Abbott wrote in the veto. "Funding should not be provided for those who quit their job early, leaving their state with unfinished business and exposing taxpayers to higher costs for an additional legislative session."
However, questions have been brought up over the constitutionality of the veto itself. Section 24 of the Texas Constitution makes not paying members of the legislature illegal.
The special session is set to begin July 8. So, what does this mean for lawmakers, staffers and aides?
No pay, no insurance... and Twitter followers?
The staffers took their final stand on Twitter where they aired their grievances with the situation and asked for followers to increase their footprint.
Meet Jen Ramos, a staff member for Texas State Senator Judith Zaffarini—and also defunded by Abbott.
My name is Jen. I’m one of the #txlege staffers defunded by Greg Abbott. Apparently now I’m supposed to ask for Tw… https://t.co/pteKADP3Hj— Jen Ramos ✨ (@Jen Ramos ✨)1624466531.0
And she's not alone. Use the hashtag #txlege and you'll find other similar messages online, like Camille's and Hector's and more.
My name is Camille, my friends call me Cam or Cammie. I’m one of the #txlege staffers defunded by Greg Abbott. And… https://t.co/mOvcjxTiUL— Camille Lasin (@Camille Lasin)1624474153.0
My name is Hector. I’m one of the #txlege staffers defunded by Greg Abbott and who had to deal with elections stuff… https://t.co/88PINm9KCv— Hector 🏙🤠 (@Hector 🏙🤠)1624466987.0
My name is Jake Salinas. I'm the TX Dem that saved the film industry in TX and broke quorum on SB7 Now our Gov h… https://t.co/PLf9ScA4Ev— Jake Salinas (@Jake Salinas)1624464237.0
It's unclear whether Abbott and other prominent Republican lawmakers will come together with Democrats to overturn the veto and continue providing insurance and regular pay for lawmakers, staffers and aides.