Late Will Bruin Goal Secures Draw for Austin FC in Portland

Jon Gallagher extends run as club’s top scorer

Substitute Will Bruin scored his first Austin FC goal in stoppage time against the Portland Timbers (credit: Austin FC)

Jon Gallagher extended his unlikely lead as Austin FC top scorer and substitute Will Bruin scored in stoppage time to earn the Verde and Black a hard-fought draw, 2-2, against the Portland Timbers at Providence Park Saturday night.

An Austin FC lineup that featured the return of defender Julio Cascante for the first time since suffering an adductor injury in February’s season opener also did not include star midfielder and captain Sebastián Driussi, who picked up a groin strain during midweek training. “It’s something that could keep him out for a little bit,” Josh Wolff said afterward, unable to give a more precise timeframe.

Rather than scoot Alex Ring back into midfield with the return of Cascante, Wolff instead opted for a three-man back line that featured Ring, Cascante, and Leo Väisänen, allowing wing backs Gallagher and Adam Lundkvist free rein to join the attack at will.

The arrangement saw some success in the first half, though ATX entered the halftime locker room down 1-0 thanks to a powerful headed goal by Portland defender Dario Zuparic in the 33rd minute, coming off a set piece.

Near the hour mark, though, the shorthanded Verde and Black attack equalized via the sort of spellbinding team goal that became such a hallmark of the 2022 season. The play began with an accurate pass from Cascante – whose distribution from the back has been sorely missed by the club – to a streaking Rodney Redes, igniting a breakaway. Redes carried the ball into the attacking third, laid off a pass to Owen Wolff, who did the same to Emiliano Rigoni on the left wing, who crossed to a wide-open Gallagher at the far post for the easy finish. That extends Gallagher’s goal count to four for the season.

The night could have been that much sweeter for Austin FC if goalkeeper Brad Stuver had reacted better to a relatively soft (but very accurate) strike from distance by Portland defender Claudio Bravo in the 71st minute, restoring a 2-1 lead for the hosts.

But in the second minute of stoppage time, Austin once again equalized thanks to a world-class cross by Owen Wolff – an example of why the 18-year-old will very likely travel to Argentina later this month as a member of the United States U-20 World Cup roster. Wolff’s cross found the head of veteran striker Will Bruin, who scored his sixth career goal against the Timbers and secured the 2-2 draw for ATXFC and the corresponding point in the standings.

“I think it was a much-deserved one point and honestly I think it should have been a three-point [win] for us,” Bruin said. “So it’s good, good to build on.”

Despite extending its streak of games without a win to seven, Austin has now scored four goals over its past two games, seemingly ending a dry scoring spell that persisted through April.

“Maybe we let the goal drought get to our heads a little bit. So I think being able to come back these last two games and show that we can score… I think we’re moving in the right direction,” Bruin said.

Next up for El Tree is the club’s second-ever foray into the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday with a home match against New Mexico United of the USL Championship division. ATX will hope to better its showing from last year’s cup tournament when it lost to another USL club, San Antonio FC, in the very first match.

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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