Toyota stadium was full of energy as 16,833 fans poured into the stadium with over 700 hundred of those fans wearing Verde.
A draw between the two Texas rivals comes as no surprise based on their last matchup, but let’s break down what happened and why Austin FC was able to take the trophy home.
A difference observed this game versus the last game was that FC Dallas spent a little more time in the attacking third and maintained slightly higher possession in the first half. FC Dallas out-possessed Austin FC 54% to 46%, which may not seem like a huge difference unless you know Austin FC’s MO is to possess, Tiki Taka, and recycle the ball in their opponent’s half.
While Austin FC is known for their slow starts and notorious comebacks, it was clear their back line was out of form. In the first half, there were many poor clearances. Slow and sloppy passes mixed in with some disconnect from the outside wingers allowed USMNT forwards Jesus Ferreira and Paul Arriola to capitalize on the game’s first goal.
Jesus Ferreira had a quick break away and sent the ball through Casarante’s legs into the feet of Paul Arriola, who was able to get in on the wrong side of Jon Gallagher and placed the ball into the back of the net between Brad Stuver’s legs. A Double meg? Ouch.
While outside back Jon Gallagher is great in transitioning Austin FC into the attack, he has had trouble staying connected to the back line in the past. He also sat out of the Houston Dynamo FC game days prior due to illness, and it may be that he wasn’t playing at 100%. Austin’s horizontal game is helpful in the attack as Gallagher gets up and creates quite a bit of havoc, but detrimental when FC Dallas makes a quick and clinical counter. Ruben Gabrielsen was able to shut Down Jesus Ferreira for most of the game, but Ferreira was able to get just enough space on him to send off a weighted pass.
The game continued, and 20 minutes later, Josh Wolff subbed in Danny Hoesen, Felipe Martins, and Owen Wolff. If there’s anything we know about Austin, it’s that any time a goal is scored against them, and Josh Wolff makes key subs; their opponents better watch out as the Austin FC beast will be unleashed.
Twenty minutes later, veteran Felipe Martins initiated the attack with a critical diagonal pass to Sebastian Driussi. Driussi sent the ball to Diego Fagundez in space, and Fagundez placed the ball into the opposite side netting.
Going into the game, we knew the best way for Austin FC to break through the FC Dallas backline was to draw their wingers out or chip the ball over the back line. In this case, FC Dallas’ winger Ema Twumasi was too high up and completely disconnected from the back line. He couldn’t back-track fast enough to stop Fagundez from scoring the equalizer.
An equalizer was all that was required for Austin FC to take home the Copa Tejas trophy.
Post-game, Paul Arriola shared his thoughts regarding styles of play and what FC Dallas needs to do in the next match.
“Number one being collective. Trying to stick together. It’s easy to kind of go separate ways when you’re not getting results, or you know when you think the team is losing momentum. So for us I think it’s just kind of focusing on getting back to that.”
Paul Arriola video tweet https://twitter.com/imkatiegoodman/status/1548539582328836099?s=20&t=tEcyRfpWjhVA4YCMpPMWWA
Austin FC maintains their number one spot in the West, while FC Dallas stays in 6th place. Up next, Austin FC takes on the New York Red Bulls at home on Sunday, July 24th.
Katie Goodman on Twitter @imkatiegoodman
San Antonio Sports Star Soccer Analyst