Late Goal Dooms Austin FC in Houston

2-1 loss snaps 2-game win streak

Gyasi Zardes' 100th MLS goal wasn't enough to guide Austin FC to a win against the Houston Dynamo. (credit: Austin FC)

Gyasi Zardes’ 100th career MLS goal – and his third in as many league games – wasn’t enough for Austin FC to slay its Texas rivals to the east, falling to the Houston Dynamo, 2-1, at PNC Stadium Saturday night.

The Verde and Black started well in their seventh match (of eight) in the month of May, in large part due to the crossing ability of Nick Lima, stationed once again as a nominal center back with Leo Väisänen out injured. Lima picked out Emiliano Rigoni for a scoring chance in the 10th minute, then provided the perfect ball to Zardes in the 21st, which Zardes was able to nod into the side netting for his milestone strike.

“It was a dream and a goal of mine to reach 100 goals, and just to see the ball hit the back of the net tonight was a dream come true,” Zardes said. “But now I want to keep going. I want to keep going and keep trying to climb the [MLS all-time goalscorers] leaderboard.”

Unfortunately for Zardes, he was also a central figure in the Houston goal later in the first half that negated his own. The striker unwisely attempted to dribble through four orange-clad defenders inside Austin’s own half, gave the ball away, and sent Amine Bassi streaking toward the ATX penalty area. A cutback pass missed its intended target but fell right to Mexican international star Hector Herrera, who calmly deposited the equalizer past Brad Stuver. Zardes took responsibility for the play, which also exposed Austin’s ailing backline.

Things got even worse in that department around the hour mark when Alex Ring, the former midfielder-turned-center back, departed with a groin injury.

A 79th-minute strike from substitute Maxi Urruti that fizzed just wide of the goal proved to be Austin’s best chance of retaking the lead.

Eventually, though, it was Houston who showed the desire to capture all three points. Off a corner kick in the 87th minute, Dynamo loanee Iván Franco reacted first to a loose ball in the box and struck it true for the winning goal, securing Houston two wins out of two against Austin so far this season.

“We didn’t do ourselves any favors and, you know, we let them have three points, to be honest,” Verde coach Josh Wolff said.

The loss snapped a two-game mini win streak in MLS play for ATXFC, which returns home for one more installment of the Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday-Wednesday cycle on May 31 against Minnesota United.

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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