Austin FC Extends Winning Streak With Comeback Over Houston Dynamo

ATXFC is first MLS team to hit 20-point mark in 2022

Midfielder Daniel Pereira scored his first career goal during Austin FC's 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo (photo courtesy of Austin FC)

Austin FC took the Houston Dynamo’s very best shot right on the chin, tasted a bit of its own blood, then rose off the canvas to shut down the in-state rivals on their home field for the club’s fourth consecutive MLS victory, 2-1.

A once-in-a-career strike from the halfway line by Dynamo DP Sebastián Ferreira wasn’t enough to deter the red-hot Oaks – even if it did cost them star goalkeeper Brad Stuver, who exited in the fifth minute with a nasty gash on his leg after tumbling into the goal frame. But backup net minder Andrew Tarbell kept a clean sheet the rest of the way, and Dani Pereira and Sebastián Driussi both scored attractive goals to keep the Verde’s winning streak alive.

“Five minutes in, there’s no panic. There’s calm,” head coach Josh Wolff said after his club’s sixth win in nine matches, adding that Austin FC’s early-season success has taught them valuable lessons on how to win. “We’re getting better, we’ve got to keep getting better, but nights like tonight help the group, certainly the mentality and the collectiveness.”

By taking all three points on offer during the Saturday matinee, Austin FC became the first MLS squad to hit the 20-point mark in 2022. The club has managed to turn a hot start into a bountiful first quarter of the season. That’s due in large part to the two goal scorers.

Pereira has arguably been the club’s most improved player from 2021 and now occupies an invaluable role as Austin FC’s tempo-dictator in holding midfield. His goal in the 39th minute, skillfully volleying an Ethan Finlay cross past Houston keeper Steve Clark, was his first as a professional player after countless near-misses over the past two years.

And then there’s Driussi, who scored his league-leading seventh goal of the season in the 66th minute – a gorgeous curling effort after creating his own space in the penalty box. Driussi hasn’t just been Austin FC’s MVP through nine games; he’s been the best player in Major League Soccer in that span as well.

“He’s a beautiful player and he’s extremely talented, and his ability to make other players around him better is incredible,” Wolff said. The coach’s only concern about Driussi this season is how other teams have seemingly targeted the Argentine with hard fouls hoping to throw him off his game. “We’ve seen tactics in the last few games, and he’s obviously making a name for himself in the league but… he takes plenty of licks, plenty of hits, and we’ve got to be mindful of that as a league.”

Meanwhile, Stuver – Austin FC’s MVP from last season – was apparently lucky to avoid serious injury apart from a laceration. Wolff said he had been taken to a local Houston hospital for stitching but that the keeper “should be fine in the coming weeks.” In the meantime, Tarbell, who many expected to be the club’s starting goalkeeper when he joined the expansion club last season, has the reins.

“I hope Brad is okay, I hope he’s ready to play this next game [because] he’s a massive part of our team and the way we play… but my job’s just to be ready when called upon right now, and I will be,” said Tarbell, who came up with four important saves in a pinch Saturday.

The road gets a bit tougher for the Verde in the month of May, starting with a return to Q2 Stadium Sunday night (May 8) to take on the LA Galaxy in a nationally-televised matchup on FS1.

For more Austin FC news and analysis, visit the Austin Chronicle's Austin FC hub. Follow The Verde Report columnist Eric Goodman on Twitter: @goodman.

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Austin FC, Houston Dynamo, Daniel Pereira, Sebastian Driussi, Andrew Tarbell, Brad Stuver, Sebastian Ferreira

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