After losing to the Colorado Rapids in a third consecutive home loss with no goals, Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff predicted the next game against Houston would provide extra motivation for his squad, playing the first Texas derby in franchise history. His team proved that theory true on Wednesday night at Q2 Stadium as Austin snapped its scoreless streak and three-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over Houston Dynamo FC.
Austin FC offense worst in MLS
Despite Josh Wolff’s assertions his Austin squad would play inspired in the club’s first in-state matchup, there wasn’t a lot of evidence in the last few weeks to suggest it would happen.
Since earning the first-ever home win by a 4-1 margin over the Portland Timbers at Q2 Stadium on July 1, the Verde and Black have gone scoreless in three consecutive home matches against LA, Seattle, and Colorado.
The recent offensive drought was just a microcosm of an ongoing problem throughout the entire season. Through 15 games, Austin was ranked dead last in the MLS with just 10 goals.
Austin FC offense breaks through for first time in four games
After three consecutive home games without goals, Austin FC fans had patiently waited for something good to happen in the final third. On Wednesday night, it finally did, and Tomas Pochettino orchestrated it.
In the seventh minute, the designated player from Argentina received a header on the corner of the six-yard box, delivered the ball across the face of goal before it ricocheted off the far post, hit an unsuspecting Dynamo defender, and caromed into the net. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a goal, and Austin FC players and fans will welcome any offense any way they can get it.
Austin got another break in the 20th minute when Houston’s Darwin Ceren delivered a sharp elbow to the face of Sebastian Berhalter and received a straight card. Down to 10 men, the Dynamo got a gift several minutes later on a sloppy turnover deep in the Austin end that Houston’s Tyler Pasher converted and leveled the score.
Just seconds into first-half stoppage time, Pochettino got in on the action again when he settled the rebound following a save on a Diego Fagundez shot and sent it past Houston goalkeeper Marko Maric for a first-half brace.
Hold on to win second game at home
Austin came out with the man advantage in the second half and established dominance in the 56th minute when Fagundez delivered a cross that Cecilio Dominguez firmly headed into the net for a commanding 3-1 lead.
The Verde and Black dominated possession for much of the half but got careless in the 86th minute when goalkeeper Brad Stuver delivered an errant pass to the right of his goal that was intercepted by Houston’s Fafà Picault, who promptly deposited it into the empty net to cut the lead to 3-2.
Despite the sloppy finish, after the match Wolff said he was pleased with the team’s overall performance, and as he predicted, the in-state rival provided extra motivation.
“We talked about that a lot this week,” Wolff said. “Our first few derbies – let’s take care of business in the first one and set ourselves up for the second one. Part of that job is done. Now we’ve got to recover, recuperate. Momentum is a big part of this entire league. Good performances help us build the momentum when you get results so the first thing is understanding what we did well here and knowing what it’s going to look like against Dallas. It’s going to be a physical game.”
Austin returns to action on Saturday night in Dallas for the second derby in as many games. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.