AUSTIN, TEXAS – Striker Danny Hoesen led the line the last time these two teams met in just the second match of the season. He was flanked by the energetic pairing of Jon Gallagher and Jared Stroud. That evening, Austin registered their first victory in franchise history.
Rapids Revenge as Austin fail to score at Q2 Stadium, Again
Hoesen now sits on Austin’s extensive injury list. Gallagher and Stroud returning from injuries of their own, take up spots on the bench. In tonight’s rematch, the Verde’s offensive hopes rested on the shoulders of Manny Perez at the 9, with Rodney Redes and Cecilio Dominguez out wide. The trio have registered just 2 goals so far this season – and Dominguez has scored both. That said, both of his tallies came against the Rapids. A good omen perhaps?
The Verde certainly started brightly enough, with opportunities being created down both wings. Quick touches, smart movement, and smart choices distinguished their opening 10 minutes of play. Perez was presented with a header on goal after good work down the left from Cecilio. He flashed it wide. Cecilio also tested Yarbrough from distance on a couple of occasions.
The Rapids had their dangerous moments, too, with Shinyashiki and Barrios ever menacing. Tidy interplay in front of the ATX defense created a couple of opportunities in behind the Verde defense, but Brad Stuver was at his alert best.
Then, on 29 minutes, the Rapids worked the same familiar move, and Austin were somehow caught out by it. Besler failed to clear, Cascante couldn’t get ahead of Shinyashiki, Stuver scrambled, but the ball deflected back to the Brazilian who bundled it under the keeper and into the net. Not the prettiest goal of the season, but a lesson for Austin. It doesn’t matter how you score. Just find a way.
Austin captain Alex Ring had the opportunity to find a way mere minutes later, but somehow managed to head Hector Jimenez’s beautiful cross over the bar from 8 yards out. Rapids led at the half, and deservedly so.
The Rapids continued to look the more dangerous team at the start of the second period. It took until the 52nd minute before Austin got a sight of goal; that man Ring again. The Finn struck his half-chance wide. A couple of minutes later, the impressive Jimenez did better, stinging Yarbrough’s hands with an on-frame rip from just outside the box. The game had opened up, now, providing some scintillating, if not particularly high-quality end-to-end soccer.
The common curse of poor decision-making + poor finishing continued to blight Austin’s attack. Tomas Pochettino blasted another chance over the bar when a player of his quality should be testing the keeper. Dominguez, rather than chesting the ball down for a much easier chance, tried an overly ambitious flick-header that was never going to trouble Yarbrough. Austin’s anxiety was clear, and it bubbled over into anger on a couple of occasions as the game wore on which didn’t help their cause.
Jared Stroud and Jon Gallagher subbed in and, as they had done in Colorado earlier in the season, injecting pace and energy into the Verde frontline. Gallagher almost leveled the match with a glancing header. Fagundez and Dominguez, spurred on by the new arrivals, continued to hustle and threaten. But it was not enough, as Austin failed to score at home for the 5th time in 6 games this season.
— Colorado Rapids (@ColoradoRapids) August 1, 2021
Three Key Takeaways:
Groundhog Day: There was a sense of inevitability at the result once Colorado scored. If your luck won’t change, and changing tactics doesn’t work, change personnel. The Sebastián Driussi/Moussa Djitte attacking cavalry can’t come quickly enough.
PK pain: Austin FC can’t even ‘earn’ a kick from the spot. In fact, no team has gotten one in the 9 games at Q2 Stadium this season. Except Qatar.
The table DOES lie: There’s that old adage in soccer that when it comes to the league table, you are where you deserve to be. That doesn’t ring true for Austin FC. ATX are much better team than their current Western Conference basement position suggests. Their game is 80% there. Unfortunately for them and their passionate fans, the missing 20% is goals.
Last Word: An exciting match, albeit one lacking real attacking quality in both boxes, was won by the team simply able to find a way to get it done. Colorado showed grit and guile. Austin matched them in almost every department, except the most critical one. ATX have got to find a way to put the ball in the back of net, especially at home. They’re running out of games – and excuses.