Josh Wolff maintained before the start of the 2021 MLS season that Austin FC would execute an attacking style of play, with possession a key component in its inaugural season. During Saturday night’s contest on the road against Minnesota United, Wolff liked what he saw as his team played on the front foot for most of the match and came away with the first clean sheet in franchise history and a 1-0 victory.
Austin earns first club win
After losing the season-opener on the road against LAFC, Austin FC took a different approach in Colorado, not by choice but out of necessity, with two key players missing from the starting lineup.
Matt Besler remained in Austin for the birth of his third child, and the MLS requested Tomas Pochettino not play due to incomplete paperwork. Those absences proved costly in the first half as Colorado’s Andre Shinyashiki scored in the 36th minute with a header off a corner kick that gave the Rapids a 1-0 lead.
Austin responded in a big way in the second half when Diego Fagundez, who started in the absence of Pochettino, scored in the 60th minute on a deflection that crossed the face of goal, landed at his feet, and he one-timed into the back of the net.
Austin was just getting started. Cecilio Dominguez opened his scoring account a few minutes later and put the Verde up 2-1. The designated player then added another goal four minutes later and Austin held on for the 3-1 win, the first-ever in franchise history.
Austin FC puts together second impressive road performance
Five months ago, Austin FC didn’t have a single player on its roster. Meanwhile, Minnesota United stood on the verge of earning a berth in its first MLS Cup final. However, the Seattle Sounders had something to say about it and pulled off the improbable, scoring three goals in the final 18 minutes to win the game and knock the Loons out of the playoffs.
Minnesota appears to have a hangover that’s lingered into the start of the 2021 season, losing 4-0 on the road in the season-opener and a rematch of the Western Conference final with Seattle, followed by a pair of losses at home to Real Salt Lake and now the expansion Austin FC.
Austin FC proved to be the better team from the start, and it was a familiar face that put the visitors ahead in the 17th minute when Diego Fagundez received a cross from Jared Stroud and slid it past Minnesota keeper Dayne St. Clair for the 1-0 lead.
Club earns first clean sheet in franchise history
Fagundez’s early goal proved to be the game-winner as the Austin defense, which struggled at times in the first two contests, played solid throughout much of the match, with a few near-misses, including a ball off the post in the second half.
The 1-0 win was the first-ever clean sheet in Austin FC history and head coach Josh Wolff said he was extremely pleased with the team’s overall performance.
“Proud to get the win. Really excited to get the zero,” Wolff told reporters. “Obviously, any time on the road you can grab three points, it’s great, but to pitch a shutout in Minnesota is not easily done. It was a collective effort on both sides of the ball.”
Austin FC improves to 2-0-1 on the season and sits in fourth place in the Western Conference. The team will once again return to the road next Sunday for a 7:30 kickoff against Sporting KC.