Why You Shouldn’t Be Worried About Austin FC’s Home Opening Performance

Everyone who watched the game Saturday night can agree Austin FC had some baffling
breakdowns in their 3-2 loss against Major League Soccer's newest expansion team, St. Louis
City SC. Yet, most can agree it was a deserved win mainly because the newbies took
advantage of the obvious, which any good team would do. However, fear not. Let there be


New Season, New Lineup, New Faces
While it may not seem like one or two players can throw off a lineup, every change matters for a
team like Austin FC. Remember when LAFC introduced Gareth Bale to their lineup? It took him
a good chunk of time before he began to (somewhat) mesh with the lineup. Austin felt the same
growing pains when Rigoni joined last season. The offensive disconnection was only amplified
with their latest big signing and USMNT player, Gyasi Zardes, added to the mix.
Understandably, Head Coach Josh Wolff wasn’t pleased with the offensive performance,
sharing in the post-game press conference, "there weren’t enough plays created around the
box," and "we need Gyasi to be more involved." Luckily, it is still very early in the season. If there is going to be a team-wide breakdown, now is the time to do it.
While Austin FC may not have had a broken offense last season, we all knew there were times
when things could have been better. Austin fans can’t always rely on Driussi to be the guy that
shows up in big moments. There were plenty of games where teams focused on shutting down
Driussi and were almost successful. In their final playoff matchup, LAFC succeeded in doing just
that. The signing of Gyasi Zardes and Emiliano Rigoni was Josh Wolff’s attempt not to keep all
his eggs in one basket (the Driussi basket). Some changes are necessary to realize greatness
fully, and sometimes, you have to struggle a little before you can start moving forward.


Give Kipp a Break
Maybe you don’t have any qualms with the offense; rather, the defense ruined your opening
game's magical moment. I fully expected trouble on defense, and I’ve been writing about the
depth needed for the center-back role since early last season. Cue the broken record.
If you haven’t heard already, young Keller made two grave defensive mistakes which both
resulted in goals. The last time I saw Kipp Keller play was last preseason versus San Antonio
FC, where his performance burned in my mind as far less than adequate. It was bad enough to
understand why he wouldn’t be a starter. I have no doubt this came at the perfect time for San
Antonio FC, who walked away with a win and the Copa Tejas trophy in hand. Despite an

embarrassing loss to a USL team, Austin FC finished second-best in the West and made it to
the conference Finals. Maybe this is their way of shaking that target off their back?
However, there is no way Saturday’s spectacle was indicative of his baseline. Do you really
think Kipp would still be on the team if that were his performance in practice? Absolutely not.
Nobody survives multiple seasons with a team like Austin FC if they aren’t bringing critical value
day in and day out.

He may have a case of the defensive yips. It happens. He’s not a bad player, but he needs to
work through the mental barriers plaguing him at the moment. While he may not have expected
to step in for Cascante, that is no excuse. When you’re on the sidelines and see less-than-
perfect passes and monumental mess-ups, it’s easy to say a player sucks. We must remember
that athletes are humans with their own personal hurdles to overcome.
Grace is important. Josh Wolff understands this sentiment saying, “with Kipp, we have to build
him up. He’s a young player, he made a mistake, and we’ve got to move on from that. This
game is about mistakes, and it’s not the fact that you make it; it’s how you pick yourself up and
move on. He’ll be stronger and better for it in the long run.”

Kipp can be an asset for Austin FC, but he needs some serious reflection. Maybe he should
follow Aaron Roger’s lead and sit in a dark cave for a few days… All jokes aside, I hope he uses
this harrowing moment in his career as fuel instead of letting it derail him. I hope he sees it as
an opportunity to prove he belongs on this squad because he does.
To the rude fans who have demanded he publicly explain his performance, I’d love to see you
go up against him in a foot race, better yet, with a soccer ball at your feet and live-streamed on
Apple TV. Something tells me you’d find yourself humbled. Take a seat and pipe down. Save
the smack-talking for your rec league.


Moments of Positivity
Austin FC scored two goals. We can't discount that. Driussi capitalized on some space for the
perfect chip, which resulted in goal number one. Gallagher did what he does best: he got up into
the attack. This time, he took matters into his own hands (or feet) and put the ball on frame and
into the dangerous lower, opposite 90. While few and far between, there were moments when
the guys were connecting. They just need to replicate more of those moments, and Gallagher’s
involvement was a keen example of how they can tie it all together.
However, the disconnect between the midfield and the attack was glaringly obvious. Newer
players like Gyasi Zardes are still trying to perfect their roles. Josh Wolff said they "could have
used him more as another number 10 in midfield" and that he “didn’t create enough good
situations in and around the box.” However, that also goes for the entire attack. These issues
are fixable and will be resolved with time, hopefully not too much time for Verde y Black.

Austin FC’s MVP, Sebastian Driussi, had a few words in his native Spanish on his new
teammate, which translates to, “with G [Gyasi], it’s his first season. I think we’re beginning to
combine already. Training is better. It’s a difficult job because at times the ball doesn’t get there,
and he can’t be in the box area where he is strongest which is why we don’t generate what we
need to park it in the goal, but it’s ok. It’s something I have to work on too.” Nothing but positive
words always from the team captain.

It will be interesting to see what their move is for the next game considering Wolff is now
managing many changes and challenges.

For more Austin FC and San Antonio FC content and news, follow Katie on Instagram and
Twitter @imkatiegoodman.

More about: