Austin FC Rediscovers Its Intensity in Win Over Houston Dynamo

ATX, Dallas will face off in Copa Tejas showdown

Austin FC midfielder Sebastián Driussi (left) was awarded Man of the Match honors following the club's 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo (photo courtesy of Austin FC)

Inspired defending, dangerous attacking from Cecilio Domínguez and Sebastián Driussi, and an all-around high level of effort and desire lifted Austin FC to a 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo at Q2 Stadium on Sunday.

The Verde wasted little time putting behind them Wednesday’s 4-0 drubbing courtesy of the San Jose Earthquakes, getting on the score sheet inside seven minutes by way of a Domínguez penalty kick. Driussi started the action by out-jumping Dynamo defender Zarek Valentin, heading the ball into Domínguez’s path. The Paraguayan took a couple of touches into the 18-yard box, then was taken down by Valentin to draw the PK.

From the spot, Domínguez’s shot hit both goalposts, deflected back off Houston goalkeeper Marko Maric and crossed over the line to make it 1-0 to the Central Texas club.

It was the sort of lucky break that the Football Club just hasn’t seemed to get very often in its inaugural season, and the players in Verde spent the rest of the first half ensuring that it wouldn’t go to waste. Moussa Djitté nearly made it 2-0 in the 36th minute if not for a spectacular save by Maric.

However, the Houston keeper could not do a thing about Driussi’s effort just before halftime, as the Argentine nestled a shot from 18 yards out into the bottom corner to double the lead. It was yet another reversal of fortune for the Verde, who themselves have been on the receiving end of multiple late first half goals.

Austin FC came out of the halftime break with its most dominant stretch of the match, despite not finding a third goal. The home side put seven shots towards the Houston goal in the first 10 minutes of the second half, drawing three Maric saves, and did not concede a single shot from the Dynamo in that span.

It must have been one helluva halftime speech from head coach Josh Wolff, right? Well, not according to Wolff himself, who said the players took the onus upon themselves to restart the match with intensity and focus.

“I think they’ve heard enough from me,” Wolff said. “It was more the players. The players took this on. And I think that’s some of the maturation that’s needed, that’s also starting to happen, and you see it.”

“I like that they’re taking ahold of it a little more, and they’re not going to need it from me,” Wolff said.

As the clock ticked past the 90 minutes and into injury time, Austin FC reminded everyone that the club still has an elite knack for dark humor. As Nick Lima went for a routine defensive clearance near the ATX goal, his kick deflected right off the knee of teammate Julio Cascante and into the net for a frankly hilarious own goal.

But it did not change the result, as Austin FC took all three points from its in-state rivals, winners by 2-1. In fact, the late own goal essentially represented the only flaw in what was otherwise a sparkling game for the ATX defensive back line.

“The defending today was excellent. It was collective. A collective willingness and a collective determination,” Wolff said. “Our back line absolutely killed it. They busted their butts.”

The win doesn’t change the fact that Austin FC is out of playoff contention and will finish the season at or near the bottom of the Western Conference, but it does have major implications in the race for Copa Tejas, the supporter-driven rivalry trophy for Texas supremacy. The Verde can now hoist the cup Saturday with a win against FC Dallas, which would – if nothing else – provide for a nice photo op to look back upon as a positive memory from ATXFC Year 1. The players are certainly game for it.

“I mean, it’s big. Every [chance at] hardware, we try to take it seriously,” ATX midfielder Daniel Pereira said. “Obviously we can win that, at least for the fans, for the trash talking that they have going on on social media. We’ll try to do that next week against Dallas. We just got to keep pushing and hopefully we get that dub.”


Read more Austin FC coverage – including Eric Goodman’s weekly column, The Verde Report – at austinchronicle.com/austin-fc. Follow him on Twitter: @goodman.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Copa Tejas, Austin FC, Sebastian Driussi, Cecilio Dominguez, Josh Wolf, Houston Dynamo, Dallas FC

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