After scoring the first goals and first win in Q2 Stadium history in dominating fashion against the Portland Timbers a week ago, Austin FC and its fans suffered a bad case of deja vu against the visiting LAFC on Wednesday night. It was a flashback to the first game in club history as the Verde and Black suffered a 2-0 loss against LA for the second time this season.
Austin FC earns first win at Q2 Stadium
After a pair of scoreless draws to open Q2 Stadium, Austin FC broke the seal against the Portland Timbers just past the midway point of the first half when forward Jon Gallagher delivered a cross from Tomas Pochettino into the back of the net for the first goal in Q2 Stadium history.
Several minutes later, Diego Fagundez got in on the action on the counterattack where he dribbled and fired just inside the 18-yard box at the far post, slipping it past Portland keeper Steve Clark for a 2-0 score.
Portland answered just before the break to cut the lead in half, but Austin came out inspired in the second half. After missing on multiple chances in the attacking third, Alex Ring finished off a free-kick from Cecilio Dominguez with a perfectly placed header past a helpless Clark.
Hector Jimenez capped off the scoring a few minutes later and Austin had secured a 4-1 win for the first-ever home victory in club history.
Austin FC offensive struggles return
After losing 2-0 in the first-ever game in franchise history on the road at LAFC, Austin had a chance at redemption on Wednesday night. With the previous win over Portland fresh on everyone’s minds, the team understandably entered the contest with considerable confidence.
The match, however, got off to an inauspicious start when Austin midfielder Daniel Pereira received a yellow card in just the third minute. It was the first of several questionable calls officials ruled against Austin on the night.
Despite that, the Austin offense found its footing early and played like it had in the last couple of games, dominating possession and creating multiple scoring opportunities. Unlike the last match, the goals didn’t come. Head coach Josh Wolff admitted it was disappointing.
“It’s frustrating, but that’s kind of been the theme,” Wolff said in the postgame press conference. “We did a really good job of putting them under pressure, creating good chances. Jared (Stroud) got into really good positions. Kekuta (Manneh) got into very good positions. Quality decision-making. Just execution in the penalty box eluded us, and it’s a familiar song.”
Turnovers prove costly in the end
While the Austin FC offense has struggled to score throughout the season, it has been relatively clean with the ball. That was not the case against LAFC, and it proved costly. Goalkeeper Brad Stuver, who has performed stellar in his first year as a regular starter in MLS, committed the first mistake in the 39th minute and Austin paid the price.
Playing out of the back and under pressure, Stuver turned over the ball on an errant pass directly to an LAFC player. Seconds later, Stuver made a quality save on a close-range shot by Kim Moon-Hwan, but was unable to save a second shot off the rebound by Jose Cifuentes.
In the 89th minute, Austin’s Sebastian Berhalter was dispossessed of the ball at midfield by Carlos Vela, who turned and delivered a perfect pass to a sprinting Diego Rossi. Rossi finished past Stuver to seal the game.
Wolff said LAFC did what good teams are supposed to do when you make a mistake.
“We gave the ball away in a couple of spots that we typically don’t and when you have quality like LAFC, they’ll punish you,” he said.
Austin FC has a two-week break from MLS action, which will allow several key players to heal from injuries. The Verde and Black look to rebound when they next host the Seattle Sounders on July 22.