Austin FC players and fans hoped that the second time around hosting the Portland Timbers would prove to be just as fruitful as the first time the teams met at Q2 Stadium, when the Verde won its first home game in club history by a 4-1 margin.
The home team didn’t wait long to set the stage on Saturday night, and more interestingly, it was Cecilio Dominguez, who was yanked after just 30 minutes in the team’s last home match against Vancouver that got it all started. The designated player drew a penalty in the 6th minute and converted for an early lead. It was a precursor of things to come as Austin rolled to a 3-1 win.
Austin FC’s Cecilio Dominguez struggled last time out
Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff admitted his team had reached a low point in recent weeks. On Wednesday night, the team appeared to hit bottom when Wolff pulled off a surprise move and yanked designated player Cecilio Dominguez just 30 minutes into the contest.
“He was performing poorly, and it was affecting the entire team,” Wolff said after the contest. “At that point, I had to make a decision to make the change. I think Johnny came in, and he gave us a little bit of life. We got a little bit more organized. Had the ball more and had a little more verticality, and thus we were able to push the tempo a little bit more at the end of the first half.”
Austin found a spark with the entry of Jon Gallagher, and took the lead in the first half. However, it wasn’t enough as Vancouver answered in the second half with a pair of goals to get out of the Lone Star State with a 2-1 victory.
Dominguez gets redemption
After losing the last three games, Austin FC players, coaches, and fans, were understandably hopeful with the Portland Timbers coming into town. That’s because the last time the two teams met back on July 1, Austin came away with its first-ever home win and did so convincingly, by a score of 4-1.
Austin came out strong in the second meeting, controlling possession as the club has for most of the games this season. However, in the past, possession hasn’t necessarily translated into goal production. On Saturday night, it did.
Dominguez looked like a completely different player with his movement and ball control. And the 27-year-old Paraguayan got things rolling in the seventh minute with a deft move just inside the 18-yard box that drew a foul. Officials initially didn’t call a foul, but after video review, declared it a penalty.
Dominguez calmly stepped up to the spot and delivered a low liner into the right corner past a frozen Portland keeper in Steve Clark to open the scoring. Austin was just getting warmed up.
Austin FC dominates with convincing 3-1 win
With the crowd buzzing, Austin FC didn’t wait long to add to its total. Three minutes later, the Verde and Black found the back of the net again after stringing together multiple passes, the final connection, a perfect cross from Nick Lima that found the head of Diego Fagundez.
Recently signed Sebastian Driussi added his name to the scoresheet in the 29th minute. Driussi initially started the attack, sending the ball to captain Alex Ring, who dropped it to Jon Gallagher. The Irishman delivered a shot that Clark missed and was destined for the goal, but Portland’s Bill Tuiloma made an impressive stop off the line. Fagundez collected the rebound, and delivered a perfect pass to a hard-charging Driussi, who blasted it into the roof of the net. Austin led 3-0 going into the intermission.
Portland managed to get on the board early in the second half when Dairon Asprilla blasted a shot from outside the box that Austin keeper Brad Stuver failed to stop. However, Austin regained control of the game following the score and held on for the 3-1 victory.