While Austin FC looked much more energetic and aggressive than weeks prior, the same issues remained. There was a lack of offensive creativity and participation the entire night. From start to finish, there was much to be desired from a team that’s now slipped to 10th in the Western Conference.
It seemed both teams had an aggressive gameplan going into the match. Wolff chose to start Maxi Urruti over Zardes, Lima got another start at RB, and most of the players seemed to be playing with a chip on their shoulder. There was added emotion in the style of play and intensity that hasn’t been seen much this season.
The 11th minute saw Austin’s best chance to score a goal the entire night. What seemed like a miscommunication between Urruti and Ring led to a missed opportunity off a corner. An obvious handball in the middle of the box happened shortly after. Officiating was rough considering the physicality the referee allowed for most of the first half. The referee issued 3 yellow cards (1 for Austin and 2 for Vancouver) prior to the 45 minute mark.
Most offensive attempts for the Whitecaps were met with solid defense. More players were in the box during attacks except for a dangerous mistake by Jon Gallagher in the 45th minute. A short pass attempt to Stuver near the top of the box found the ball at the feet of Simon Becher. Stuver managed to get a hand up just in time to keep the ball from going over his head. The half ended after extra time with no goals for either team.
Entering the second half, both teams played with a similar level of intensity. Vancouver showed more aggression in transition and put more pressure on Stuver. Austin FC continued to lack creativity and the drive to score goals.
All of the attempts Austin had in the second half seemed half-baked. The only shot that really had a chance was from Diego Fagundez in the 50th minute. Emiliano Rigoni made a well timed pass to the left side as Fagundez streaked into the box. The shot was basically right at Yohei Takaoka, who easily deflected the shot.
Nick Lima received a yellow card in the 68th minute that was very questionable. I’ve watched the replay of the slide tackle a few times and it didn’t seem like a dangerous tackle at all. Cleats weren’t up either. So I’m not sure what the referee saw. Luckily, I’m not the one making those calls.
We saw Ethan Finlay come on for Diego Fagundez after an injury in the 55th minute. It seemed groined related and Wolff later confirmed that during the press conference. Rodney Redes, Gyasi Zardes, and Sofiane Djeffal also got minutes for Rigoni, Urruti, and Owen Wolff which was nothing short of interesting. It seemed the team was a little more creative while they were on the pitch. Maybe more of that is to come.
The second half ended similar to that of the first. Both teams took desperate attempts at the goal hoping to steal 3 points. The game ended in a tie, awarding 1 point to both clubs. Austin FC had 57% of the possession but took less shots than Vancouver. Something has to change.
I’m always happy to see Stuver earn a clean sheet. Would have been nice to see the squad get some goals to make a statement. It’s still uncertain what the extent of Fagundez’s injury is. Meaning, we may see more of Finlay in that role. It would also be nice to see more of Djeffal.
I will argue that business picked up once those subs came on. Team chemistry doesn’t look the same from last year. Rigoni looked better in some aspects. But it may be time to change up the gameplan and get some other players opportunities.
Defensively, the team played much better. Now, whether or not that’s because it wasn’t against Denis Bouanga is beside the point. Players seemed to fill the box to help Stuver on attacking plays and there was an urgency that wasn’t seen last week.
Offensively, the struggles are the same. It’s like they don’t know what to do once the ball is in the final third of the pitch. There were a few plays that lacked intensity and will to score. But the subs that came in really showed they wanted to get the ball into the back of the net. If it’s not a formation change, it needs to be personnel. Wolff, you got to change up the recipe. This isn’t working. Everyone can see it. What are you going to do?
Austin FC travels to LA again next week to take on the Galaxy. Both teams will be coming off a loss and both teams haven’t won a match in the last five. Even with the Galaxy being lower in the standings, they are the favorite to win the contest. Austin FC needs a win. The fans need a win. Or, we may need a new head coach.