Austin FC Falls 3-4 to the New York Red Bulls
On Sunday evening, the East took a bite out of the West. It was clear to most spectators that Austin FC was utterly out of form. The entire first half looked as if their 2021 season had paid a visit. To add insult to injury, the New York Red Bulls didn’t start their usual starters in hopes of preserving those players for the US Open Cup Semi-Final against Orlando City.
The New York Redbulls started the drama with a goal in the ninth minute, which was revoked due to an offsides call from the linesman. Only minutes later, they scored another goal, which the referee also rescinded. This was only the beginning of an odd match-up.
You’d think the phantom goals would get a rise out of Austin FC, but they continued to sludge through the first half. The high press from the NY Red Bulls was so intense that Austin could not regroup and play their game. NY closed down Austin’s outside backs and made it extremely difficult for them to find passing lanes in the middle of the field. So, instead of Austin FC’s beautiful possession game, we saw turnovers, long balls, forced passes, and fouls from frustration.
Despite the high press, we didn’t see a sense of urgency from Austin, and they paid for it. In the 14th minute, NY Red Bull winger Serge Ngoma scored, and that ref didn’t revoke that one.
Another huge presence missed in the match was that of Brad Stuver, who was out with COVID-19. Unfortunately, he missed not only the game but the ESPY Awards, where he was nominated for the 2021 Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award. Just in case you needed another reason to hate COVID.
The first goal was unfortunate for backup keeper Andrew Tarbell as the shot went through his hands and under his legs. After the match, Josh Wolff said, “Andrew hasn’t played a ton of games this year, but he’s a good goalkeeper. He’ll own what happened tonight—and making a mistake? He doesn’t hide from that stuff. He’s a great leader and a responsible guy.”
As the match unfolded, Dru Yearwood added a goal to the sheet for the Red Bulls, capitalizing on a less-than-awake Austin FC back line.
However, not all hope was lost as the notorious All-Star Sebastian Driussi added a goal to the scoreline for Austin FC. Sebastian added luck and precision behind the ball driven from outside the 18 into the lower 90. The ball passed through quite a bit of traffic to make it to the back of the net. Let’s just say it was precisely what Austin needed right before closing out a horrendous first half.
Hopes were high for Austin FC, but NY RB Cameron Harper added another blow in the 51st minute after juking center back Ruben Gabrielson and placing it into the left side of the net.
Minutes later, substitute Tom Barlow scored the final blow for New York after splitting the back line once again. Josh Wolff did what every coach hopes not to have to do and subbed his center back, Ruben Gabrielsen, giving Washington Corozo his debut.
You’d think that would be enough to put any team to bed, but Driussi had other plans scoring a beautiful goal off the post. He took advantage of the open pockets in NY Red Bull’s back line.
The most spectacular goal of the match came shortly after from Ethan Finaly after a bicycle kick assist from Austin FC’s latest addition, Washington Corozo. A bicycle kick on your debut? Now that’s entertainment.
While the Austin FC beast had awakened, Verde showed up too little too late to walk away with the W, and in-turn, lost their spot at the top of the table to LAFC.
Josh Wolff admitted, “when I look back on it, we clearly could’ve gotten some things better and prepared these guys, and that’s on me as a coach. Structure, personnel decisions. I’ll make those corrections going forward.” Spoken like a true leader. He continues, “I could have done a better job this week and put our players in a better position to succeed, but we grinded, and we got ourselves back in the game.”
The most interesting thing about this match was not Austin’s ability to make a near comeback, but their ability to do so with such poor overall performance and without playing their usual game. They were forced to play direct, and luckily for Austin, Driussi knew how to capitalize on the very few opportunities he was given. I guess that’s why he’s tied with Valentin Castellanos for the MLS golden boot.
Up next is Sporting KC Saturday, July 30th at 7:30 pm at Children’s Mercy Park stadium.