Austin-Dallas takeaways: Driussi scores again, Struver shines

Austin FC celebration

AUSTIN – The Texas Derby went Austin’s way in a 2-1 win over FC Dallas. Moussa Djitte gave the hosts a lead after scoring from a corner kick. Sebastian Driussi continued his scoring ways to double the lead for Austin. Alan Velasco cut the deficit in half with a lovely-worked goal, but it was too little too late. Brad Struver made one of the saves of the postseason to keep Austin in the lead, and are now heading to LAFC for the Western Conference Final. Here are some takeaways from the final game of the Conference Semifinals.

Austin-Dallas takeaways: Driussi scores again, visitors

Austin’s dominant first half

This first half was all Austin. There was a goal line clearance just two minutes in. From there on, the momentum just came flowing through the hosts. Diego Fagundez had a free kick that just went over the bar. 

Then in the 26th minute, Austin took the lead. From a corner kick, the ball went past several bodies before finding Moussa Djitte. The Senegalese striker smashed it into the net for the opening tally. His first goal since mid-September. 

Just three minutes later, the home side doubled their advantage. Sebastian Driussi picked up the ball from midfield off a turnover, and took it himself. He went to his right, past a few markers before and lasered a low drive past Paes for a 2-0 lead. It’s the Argentine’s third straight game with a goal. 

The halftime whistle blew and you didn’t need the stats to tell you the story. Austin simply overwhelmed their local rivals in all areas. Josh Wolff’s side outshot Dallas eight-to-one. Even in the air, Austin outfought Dallas for six aerial duels to one. 

Alan Velasco is an awesome talent, one to watch next season

The Argentine’s skillset was on clear display throughout the campaign, logging six goals and five assists. Therefore, it might not have been a surprise seeing Velasco bring Dallas back into the game. His dribbling and quick thinking were on display when he scored to halve the deficit. Something tells us that the longer he keeps this up next year, the better his prospects will be. It’ll take FC Dallas to a high level, and himself to national team selections. Ranked 7th in the MLS 22 Under 22 list, you can certainly expect that number to rise by the end of 2023.

And given how Dallas fared this season, it’s fair to expect them to build upon this season. They should be looked at as one of the teams to keep an eye on during the offseason. Their shrewd moves in the summer have set them up well to go toe-to-toe with many teams in the Western Conference. A slow start doomed them against Austin, and Nico Estevez will take note as they go again next season.

Brad Struver shines once again

It all happened in the 87th minute. A cross to the back post was headed down by Jader Obrian, only for Brad Struver to make a great kick save. Easily one of the best saves of the postseason, the 31-year-old didn’t have much time to think about reacting any other way. Fantastic reaction save, whether it’s penalties or key saves in regulation, Struver has made himself into a cult hero. He’s as big a part of their success as anyone in that squad.

Austin heads to LAFC, and has reason to be confident

Josh Wolff’s side swept the Supporters’ Shield champions this year, winning 4-1 at home and 2-1 away in California. Rarely does a team beat the other three times in a season, but that’s the possibility that can happen. Steve Cherundolo will have his hands full coming up with a game plan to slow down Austin. While the Verde will be confident, seeing as LA Galaxy scored twice to give LAFC a scare.

Major League Soccer rejoices because there won’t be a boring matchup the rest of the way. Philadelphia-NYCFC in the East is a rematch of last season, and should be as heated and physical as one can expect. LAFC-Austin will be awesome as well, so much attacking firepower on both sides on display. Crowds at full throat, weather getting colder, the stakes as high as they possibly can be, with history just two matches away.
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