The Seattle Sounders are the class of the Western Conference. With that level of quality, no one gave Austin FC a chance back in May when the first-year squad visited the Pacific Northwest. Austin came away with a hard-earned point in a scoreless draw.
On Thursday night, Seattle visited Austin for the first time, and for much of the contest, it appeared destined for the same result. That all changed just over 20 minutes into the second half when Sounders forward Raúl Ruidíaz picked up a deflected ball and delivered a perfect shot from 40 yards out over Austin keeper Brad Stuver for the game-winner and a 1-0 victory.
Austin FC coach Josh Wolff disappointed by team’s performance
After two weeks off, several Austin FC players had a chance to heal from their injuries while the entire squad had a chance to regroup following a 2-0 defeat to LAFC for the first home loss in club history. Unfortunately for the fans in attendance at Q2 Stadium watching the home team host the first-place Seattle Sounders, it was much of the same in the opening half.
As has become the trend at home this season, Austin dominated possession and had plenty of chances but failed to capitalize. The same held true against the Sounders in the first 45 minutes as Rodney Redes, Kekuta Manneh, and Cecilio Dominguez all had quality chances. But as has become an all-too-familiar theme, they all came up empty.
Also continuing a troubling trend from the previous match against LAFC, the Verde and Black appeared disconnected, making one careless turnover after another. After a second errant pass in a matter of minutes, captain Alex Ring screamed in frustration. A few minutes later, Matt Besler showed his own frustration after he delivered a bad pass out of bounds.
Austin FC Head Coach Josh Wolff noted after the match the disappointing start in the first half.
“They’re defensively very organized. They put nine and 10 guys behind the ball,” Wolff said. “It’s always going to be a challenge to break that down. For me, the disappointment was more how we started the game. The energy. I mentioned before sometimes, when you don’t have a real game, you lack a little bit of pop, a little bit of sharpness, and I think that was evident. But more disappointing was just the lack of structure. What we worked on for the last five or six days was not on display in the first half.”
Seattle gets stellar long-range goal from Raul Ruidiaz
Austin started the second half with most of the possession but without any quality shots on goal. In the 57th minute, Wolff sought an injection of energy and quality with the substitution of forward Jon Gallagher, who missed the previous match due to a foot injury.
However, in the 67th minute, it was Seattle’s sub of Raul Ruidiaz that paid off. Just past the halfway line, Ruidiaz had a deflected pass land at his feet. The Peru international player saw Austin keeper Brad Stuver off his line and fired from 40 yards out. Stuver retreated, but it was too late as the ball found the back of the net.
Ten minutes later, Austin appeared to answer on a set piece when Cecilio Dominguez fired a ball inside the six-yard box and Julio Cascante headed it in. However, after video review, the goal was disallowed because Cascante was ruled offside.
Austin FC struggles on offense this season well-documented
To say the Austin FC offense has struggled this first season is an understatement. The Seattle game was just more evidence. Through 14 matches, Austin has managed to score just 10 goals, second-worst in the entire league.
The offensive futility has been a consistent problem throughout the season. The Verde and Black have only managed to score two or more goals in a game on two occasions, the most recent coming in an impressive 4-1 win over the Portland Timbers that was also the first home win in club history.
Dominguez and Diego Fagundez are both tied for the team lead with three goals apiece.
The Verde and Black next try to get their offense on track on July 31 at Q2 Stadium when they host the Colorado Rapids.