What a match for Austin FC. Start to finish, it was fun to watch. Finally, there is some momentum for the team. Can they build on it moving forward? Let’s talk about it.
This match began with questions before kick off. The starting 11 is released and Sebastian Driussi isn’t even on the bench. Julio Cascante makes his return after suffering an injury week one. With no reason for missing Driussi, this team looked like Wolff expected to lose.
In the middle of the half, reports start to circulate that Driussi will be out 3 to 4 weeks with an injury. Which, at the very least, explained why he was missing. Both teams played very physical as the half played on. Then, Portland finds the back of the net in the 33rd minute.
The first half ends with Austin FC seeming a little deflated. Defense wasn’t terrible but needed to stand firm. I’m sure I sound like a broken record in saying there was a lack of creativity in the attacking third. But there was still some hope.
Things starting picking up in the second half. The physicality continued and the ref let it happen for the most part. The Timbers kept pushing to score while Austin starting pushing to equalize. And then it happened. Jon Gallagher scores off an incredible pass from Emiliano Rigoni. Life has returned to the team with 30 minutes left to play.
This hype was short lived as Portland again finds the back of the net in the 71st minute. Nick Lima comes on for Cascante and the team kept up the intensity. Both squads trying to find the back of the net again. In the 84th minute, Wolff makes the decision to go for it. Maxi Urruti, Ethan Finlay, and Will Bruin all come on in an attempt to steal a point.
As the signal comes in for 4 minutes of extra time, it’s starting to look like it may be another loss for Austin FC. The team keeps the foot on the gas into extra time. With the picture perfect cross from Owen Wolff, Bruin smashes the header into the bottom right of the goal with 2 minutes remaining. The matches end in a 2-2 tie that feels more like an Austin FC win.
Portland had all the momentum going into this match. Austin FC, with no Driussi, seemed to be set up for a loss. Yet the team didn’t give up and looked even better than last week. This match was a thriller. And I think there is something to think about after seeing who scored.
Gyasi Zardes, Maximiliano Urruti, and Emiliano Rigoni have a combined 2 goals this season between them. These cats were supposed to be the guys that we could count on for goals. Gallagher, who was moved to a back role, has 4 goals alone. And now Will Bruin, who’s not a DP, also has a goal. There has to be a change in the 9 spot. And my vote is either Gallagher or Bruin.
There is finally momentum for Austin. 4 goals in 2 matches when there was a calendar month without a goal prior to last week. Not having Driussi will hurt. But it’s clear that matches are still winnable. They will play 6 more matches this month including one in the U.S. Open Cup. That will be their next match on Wednesday against New Mexico United. Here’s hoping Wolff takes this match seriously.