Austin FC Ties FC Dallas 2-2 on Home Turf at Q2 Stadium
Austin FC forward Sebastian Driussi, left, moves the ball past FC Dallas defender José Martínez (3) during the second half of an MLS soccer match, Saturday, June 25, 2022, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Austin FC’s first match with FC Dallas this season held a very different outcome from previous seasons. The Austin side in 2021 lost all games played against rival FC Dallas. Saturday night’s match resulted in a 2-2 tie, with FC Dallas being the first to get points on the board.

To quote Austin FC’s head coach Josh Wolff, “I think both teams really tested each other and as the game went on, we really flexed our muscle and really showed we could cause problems.” There is no doubt this match was a physical one, as game statistics showed a total of 11 fouls for each side.

USMNT player, Paul Arriola, was able to capitalize on the first goal due to a turnover by Austin FC left-back Jon Gallagher. After the game, Gallagher said, “that one moment maybe disrupted what I thought of as having a good game. I thought I did a good job in locking down a good player in Arriola. It was a silly giveaway and a lapse of concentration.”
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Josh Wolff continued, “we gave away in poor areas of the field and got punished for it, but to see what our group is and to have memories of what last year looked like here and seeing what they looked like today, it’s night and day.”

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A short 10 minutes later, substitute #18 Brandon Servania of FC Dallas sent the ball through the hands of Brad Stuver and into the roof of the net after breaking through the back line. At this point, we began to see a sense of urgency. Josh Wolff agrees, “goals start to push the game and the tempo. We always say goals change games.”

Luckily, that was the case for Austin FC as Sebastian Driussi initiated their comeback in the 72nd minute. Driussi cannot take all of the credit as substitute Moussa Djitte played a notable role in forming the attack, assisting Driussi in his goal.

Most agree that Austin FC substitutes Moussa Djitte, Nick Lima, and Danny Hoesen played a crucial role in the game’s turnaround as Danny Hoesen scored the equalizer (and diving header show-stopper of a goal) only 13 minutes later. After the game, center midfielder Felipe Martins agreed, “the subs did a tremendous job.”

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Mostly everyone in the stadium could recognize the first half of the game to be a plodding half. A sense of urgency followed after the first goals, but let’s break it down a little further to see why it may have taken Austin a bit longer to get points on the board.

A key observation between the two teams was that FC Dallas played an extremely vertical game, making critical diagonal runs from the beginning of the whistle. Attackers and USMNT players Paul Arriola and Jesus Ferreira made it incredibly difficult for Austin FC’s back line early on. However, Austin’s defense did a great job of keeping them at bay for the entirety of the first half.

On the flip side, while Austin FC took advantage of the horizontal space, they stagnated in the attack. Their creativity was born from the urgency to recover from the goals against.

Until then, almost every time Austin countered with an attack, FC Dallas forced them to recycle the ball, making it a possession game. This is reflected in the possession statistics and is how a team with 37% possession (FC Dallas) can tie a team with 63% possession (Austin FC).

While it’s important not to force the ball, we saw results come for Austin when players like Moussa Djitte stepped onto the pitch to create havoc by executing different runs and creative exchanges. His creativity spurred the first goal, and as Austin FC commentator and pregame show host Michael Lahoud has coined, “The Mous was truly loose.”

Up next, Austin FC goes against the new expansion team, Charlotte FC, and has an interesting road schedule with games taking place on a Thursday, Monday, and Saturday in the coming weeks. We’ll have to see where guys are physically, but some rotation in there. I don’t plan to make a lot, but we’ll see how they come out of this game. As for Charlotte, they haven’t lost and we’re well-aware of their record there and are ready to go there with some intent.”

The next Austin FC home match is against Houston Dynamo on Tuesday, July 12th at 8 pm CST at Q2 Stadium.