Austin FC Stalls Seattle Sounders for Satisfying Draw

RECAP: ATXFC holds league leaders to goalless draw at Lumen Field

Austin FC defender Julio Cascante places a tackle on Seattle midfielder Jimmy Medranda. Cascante and center back partner Matt Besler were steady throughout the 90 minutes. (courtesy of Austin FC)

Austin FC and the Seattle Sounders played out to a goalless draw Sunday night in the Pacific Northwest, earning a point in the process, and nobody had to wonder which team left the field more content.

“Really proud of the guys,” head coach of the visiting team riding a three-match losing streak, Josh Wolff, said. "First for answering the bell and competing, and second [for] grinding their hearts out and putting together a real collective effort.

“We deserved the point.”

A draw on the road is generally considered a strong result anytime you can get one. But for a slumping expansion squad to scrap out a point against the Sounders, by any metric the best team in MLS thus far this season, it will feel like a figurative victory if not a literal one.

“I think it gives our guys a bit of satisfaction that we could come here, roll up our sleeves a bit, compete… and play our way into the game,” Wolff said.

Austin FC played its best all-around defensive game to date on the Lumen Field synthetic turf. The midfield was organized and difficult for Seattle’s creative stars to play through and the defensive back four erased most scoring chances that made it to their penalty box. Goalkeeper Brad Stuver, among the league leaders in saves throughout the season, was only required to make two against the Sounders.

Seattle had not been held scoreless in any of its previous seven matches, racking up a league-leading 14 goals in those contests.

“We played for each other,” Austin FC midfielder and captain Alex Ring said. “We ran our asses off today. I think that was something that we missed in Nashville.”

The Oaks extended their goalless drought another 90 minutes to 363 minutes, nearly four full games. But they can take some comfort in knowing that they created the best scoring chance of the match. In the 71st minute, Ring forced a turnover in midfield, springing Austin on the counter-attack. Jon Gallagher played a smart through ball to an unmarked Jared Stroud, who struck his shot right at Seattle’s keeper.

Tactically, Wolff unveiled a new wrinkle in attack, borne in equal parts by player availability (striker Danny Hoesen did not make the trip with a hip injury) and a desire to shake things up. Dominguez, usually deployed on the left wing, played the majority of the game at striker. The result was a more interconnected attack. Dominguez completed 81% of his passes from the forward position.

"I think Cecilio brings a little bit different dynamic as a center striker. He's got cleverness. He's grindy, he's gritty, he's unpredictable, and he can also bring guys into the game,” Wolff said.

Austin FC now sits in a tie for 10th in the Western Conference with seven points through seven matches. They can finally see the end of their grueling eight-game road trip in the distance.

After an idle week this week, the Verde will take on Sporting Kansas City on June 12, in the last away match before opening up Q2 Stadium against the San Jose Earthquakes June 19. A 10-man Austin FC lost 2-1 to Sporting KC at Children’s Mercy Park last month.


Read more Austin FC coverage – including Eric Goodman’s weekly column, The Verde Report – at austinchronicle.com/austin-fc.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Austin FC, Seattle Sounders

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