HOUSTON – During this game, a Verde fan on Twitter suggested ‘Austin fans deserve better than this’. He’s not wrong. Houston Dynamo came to compete in this latest round of the Copa Tejas. Austin FC didn’t look up for a fight. The end result? The Dynamo ran out convincing 3-0 victors.
Dynamic Dynamo get their Copa Tejas revenge over Austin FC
The game started in the best possible way for Houston, scoring less than a minute into the match. Absent due to a concussion in the last game, perhaps the team missed Matt Besler’s ability to direct traffic at the back? Julio Cascante and Jhohan Romaña certainly looked directionless without the veteran. Neither player stepped in to stop Darwen Quintero and he carved his way through the ATX backline. His shot was palmed away by Brad Stuver, but only as far as Griffen Dorsey who buried the follow up.
On 24 minutes, things got even worse for the visitors. Julio Cascante’s loose control out of the air (doesn’t feel like that’s the first time I’ve typed that about an Austin defender this season?) was intercepted by Fafà Picault. Stuver couldn’t save his teammate on this occasion, as the Dynamo forward confidently slotted the ball past him and into the bottom corner.
Austin looked shell-shocked. Worse than that, they didn’t seem prepared to put in the extra effort it was going to take to turn the tide. Houston sat a little deeper, which they’d earned the right to do. Austin needed to show some fight, run harder, ask more questions of the Dynamo defense to earn their way back into the match. They didn’t. ATX were second best to too many balls and their movement ahead of the ball was poor, resulting in a distinct lack of offensive options for the man on the ball.
The next goal was going to be huge, and Austin went looking for it at the start of the second half. The movement was better, without being truly incisive. Houston were stretched on occasion, but never to breaking point. Austin’s best chance of the half did lead to a goal, but not at the end they wanted.
Cecilio Dominguez timed his connection with a right-wing cross perfectly, directing the ball goalwards for a certain tally. Houston keeper Michael Nelson had other ideas, though, making an implausible point-blank block. The Dynamo immediately countered, and Picault found the corner of the net again.
Austin made subs to relieve a tiring defense. They made subs to try and inject some energy into a floundering attack, most notably bringing on Moussa Djitte with 20 minutes to go. Some might ask why the Senegalese forward wasn’t introduced at halftime after the first-half display and two-goal deficit? I don’t know the answer to that. But I suspect the answer to Austin FC’s woes right now is something more than just one man.
Last Word: A few games this season have been candidates for Austin FC’s worst performance. But it’s hard to argue against this one, now, though. For large swathes of the game, they were out hustled and outmuscled by the only team – before this game – below them in the Western Conference. Most worryingly, this game represented ATX’s least spirited effort. Austin looked utterly crestfallen tonight.