As Austin FC's standings continue to plummet, so does their fans' confidence in the team's game plan.
In August, we asked fans on Twitter why some of them think Head Coach Josh Wolff should be ousted just a few months into his first season. Dozens of fans left (very lengthy) responses on various ends of the #WolffOut spectrum, but all came to a clear consensus: the new club's game plan is not working.
That lack of cohesion was made all too clear over the weekend. In what may have been the lowest blow yet for the stumbling first-year team, Austin gave up a point to last-place Houston Dynamo within the first minute of play in a 3-0 loss on Saturday.
Some of Austin's flaws seem to contradict Wolff's original game plan: a lack of intensity, unforced errors and a lack of confidence in the final third continue to beset the team. But sometimes the team's biggest issues are hard to see with the naked eye.
Los Nerdes Verdes (from left: Sal and Erin Kubatzky, Travis Greenfield and Kingsley Powers-Greenfield) seek to find answers to Austin's biggest triumphs and defeats through the numbers. (Los Nerdes Verdes)
Each week, the two find a dataset that stands out to them and create fun, engaging tables and graphs to break down the club's best-and worst-stats.
"Saggy in the Middle"
Last game, errant passes and giveaways in the back plagued Austin. However, those giveaways may be covering up some more systemic defensive issues in the middle of the field where we struggle to put on meaningful pressure or make tackles. (1/3) pic.twitter.com/HTCXoqLuoY— Los Nerdes Verdes (@LosNerdesVerdes) September 4, 2021
When Austin FC lost 5-3 to rivals FC Dallas and lost a lead in a 2-1 defeat to the Vancouver Whitecaps, many fans pointed to the team's slow defense and errors from center backs Julio Cascante and Jhohan Romana, but the Nerdes found another culprit.
Austin FC is "Saggy in the Middle," the two said, ranking 24th and 27th of the MLS's 28 teams in tackles and pressure in the middle third of the field.
(1/2) With just 40.2% of Austin FC's touches coming in the middle third. That's good for 2nd last in the league.— Los Nerdes Verdes (@LosNerdesVerdes) August 14, 2021
Our opponents this season have spent just 39.7% of their possession in the middle of the field, a full 4% under the league average! pic.twitter.com/zIUI90eOYB
A few weeks earlier, the duo also found flaws in the middle: as of Aug. 14, Austin FC holds just 40% of their possession in midfield, ranking second to last in the league.
"Possession is nine-tenths of the law"
(2/3) This week’s matchup is a prime example of that dichotomy. The Sounders, despite averaging 48.3% possession, are second in the league goals per game and first in goals given up with just .64 a game. pic.twitter.com/aPczc8FZpm— Los Nerdes Verdes (@LosNerdesVerdes) July 22, 2021
Wolff's "positional play" method—a complex style popular in European leagues—has yet to pay off, and neither has their tendency to hold possession. According to Greenfield, holding possession has a higher correlation to success in Europe, South America and other high-caliber leagues. But it doesn't hold much weight in MLS.
"A lot of people touted the way Josh Wolff wants to play as something that's going to be kind of revolutionary... and that's very possession-heavy style, soccer that hasn't been done successfully in the MLS too much," Greenfield said. "And the way that kind of manifests on itself on the field so far seems to be this willingness to hold on to the ball, play a lot of passes, but something that's not necessarily good for progressing forward."
(1/2) Austin boasts some of the best passing statistics in the league – 2nd in pass comp/game and 1st in comp%.— Los Nerdes Verdes (@LosNerdesVerdes) July 31, 2021
However, only 30.5% of the distance covered by Austin passing is towards the opponents goal. That’s almost 4% under the MLS average and good for 24th comparatively. pic.twitter.com/rLBFIvuOvk
Austin's inability to transfer possession into goals may come down to their passing, which is actually impressive at first glance. While the team is second in MLS for pass completion, they aren't as adept in passing up the field. That translates to big losses to teams like the Seattle Sounders that tend to hold off on possession.
A silver lining
Austin FC— Los Nerdes Verdes (@LosNerdesVerdes) June 19, 2021
xGA: 2.16 (26th)
GA: 1.13 (10th)
The largest gap in the league. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/o2rEWjebma
Austin is an outlier in a few positive ways as well. In June, the Nerdes found that while Austin's expected goals against are high, the actual number of goals they give up are shockingly low. As of June 19, the team was expected to give up 2.16 goals per match, the second-most in the league, they actually rank 10th in keeping teams out of goal.
Greenfield said this comes down to two factors: the power of keeper Brad Stuver and the defense's shot-blocking prowess, though both have been less effective in recent weeks.
"In the story you tell about Austin FC this season, especially through the statistics, you have to mention Brad Stuver," Greenfield said. "It's this bend, don't break method where we allow them to come into the defensive third and try to clamp down."
This week we are playing Sporting KC which will be a TOUGH test. They lead the league in goals and goals per game. They are near the top of the league in goal distance, and they convert almost all of their expected goals. Their offense is efficient AND productive. (1/3) pic.twitter.com/fAdn5ezR97— Los Nerdes Verdes (@LosNerdesVerdes) June 12, 2021
While Greenfield admits that numbers reveal only part of the story, he's found Los Nerdes Verdes have united both seasoned soccer fans and newbies with their fun, Austin-centric content (see headlines like "Austin FC takes shots from Manchaca").
"There is a huge group of people who like to engage in soccer the same way that we do.. and it's just been really fun to try to bring those two types of fans together in a way," Greenfield said.
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An Austin-based firm that’s established itself as one of the top Bitcoin miners in North America is set to go public.
On Thursday, the company, known as Core Scientific Inc., announced it’s now trading on Nasdaq as $CORZ. The stock opened at $9.74 per share then peaked at $10.48. The company was assigned a $414 million market cap.
"As one of the largest publicly-traded blockchain infrastructure providers and digital asset miners in North America, we are focused on growing our capacity, defending and securing the blockchain ecosystem and building long-term shareholder value," CEO Mike Levitt said.
As reported by Yahoo News, investors approved a plan for a public debut through a $4.3 billion merger with special purpose acquisition company Power & Digital Infrastructure Acquisition Corp. The deal arrives as Austin sees its crypto scene soar, with increased activity in the NFT economy and groups pooling their money together through DAOs.
Core Scientific was established in 2017 and relocated its headquarters from Seattle to Austin last year. It has a site in Downtown Austin on 106 E. 6th St. and data centers in Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and North Dakota. More than 100 full-time employees are in the U.S., but it's unclear how many are in Austin.
Now, they say they are the biggest Bitcoin miners based on processing power, with claims that the combined mining capacity on the Bitcoin network exceeds that of competitors. And SEC filings from earlier this month show it's in the process of acquiring Blockcap, Inc., which moved to Austin last year.
The company describes itself as a leader in high-performance, carbon-neutral blockchain infrastructure in an industry that catches flak for its energy use.
Aside from mining, the company provides internet hosting services for other large-scale miners. In fact, it derives about half its revenue by helping big customers mine, a quality seen in what’s often referred to as an “institutional-grade” miner.
Looking ahead, Core Scientific seems optimistic about the year ahead even as Bitcoin falls from its all-time high.
“We’ve worked hard to lay the groundwork that will enable us to achieve our 2022 projections,” Levitt told Yahoo News. “Our objective is to be the best. Being the best means doing all that we can for our business, the industry in which we participate and for the Bitcoin network.”
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Watch some Cricket
When: 5:30-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: The Crossover, 1717 Scottsdale Drive
What: Looking for a new sport to obsess over? Attend one of Sports Movement’s indoor cricket matches.
Le Garage Sale
When: 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Rd.
What: Find over 100+ boutiques, brands and designers at Le Garage sale. Shop leisurewear, accessories, menswear, children’s apparel, home decor and more. Tickets start at $10.
See a movie at the drive-in
When: 6:25-8:45 p.m., 9:15-10:50 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Globe Drive-In Theater, 8017 Cele Rd.
What: This weekend you can see Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban at 6:25 p.m. or you can see The Cabin in the Woods at 9:15 p.m. at the drive-in. Tickets cost $16 per car.
Museum of Ice Cream
When: 11:30 a.m Saturday and Sunday
Where: Museum of Ice Cream, 11410 Century Oaks Ter.
What: The Museum of Ice Cream is featuring 12 never-before-seen instillations celebrating the enjoyment of ice cream. View tickets here.
The Austin Flea
When: 12 p.m. Sunday
Where: Meanwhile Brewing, 3901 Promontory Point Dr.
What: Find handmade items, vintage wares, food and drink and more at The Austin Flea at Meanwhile Brewing. Vendors are handpicked for each show to guarantee a great selection of items to shop for.