Austin FC Falls to Real Salt Lake After Two-Hour Weather Delay
Lightning strikes douse momentum in 2-1 defeat at Q2
By Eric Goodman,
10:53AM, Sun. Jun. 4, 2023
If Austin FC’s season has felt a bit stop-and-start through the first half of year three, Saturday night’s contest against Real Salt Lake was the perfect encapsulation. El Tree’s eventual 2-1 defeat at Q2 Stadium was prolonged by a two-hour weather delay that only served to extend a frustrating, momentum-dousing match for the Verde and Black.
Salt Lake striker Rubio Rubín, whose last trip to Q2 ended with a red card in the first round of the 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs, was out for redemption and came away with both Salt Lake goals, one on either side of the lightning-induced intermission.
The first came in the 15th minute when Rubín out-jumped Alex Ring to get on the end of a Jasper Löffelsend cross and head it in for the opening goal.
From then on, Austin had to contend with 18-year-old goalkeeper Gavin Beavers, an impressive RSL academy product, who repelled a Diego Fagúndez free kick and an Emiliano Rigoni volley with spectacular diving saves in the first half.
With five minutes remaining in the first half at 8:20pm, referee Tori Penso blew her whistle to initiate a weather delay due to lightning strikes in the area. The match did not resume until close to 10:30pm. While a significant portion of the crowd left during the two-hours-and-change delay, the assembled masses of supporters in the south stand stayed mostly intact.
“I think [stadium officials] were asking for people to leave and they were still in the stands cheering, and the spirit when we got back out there was incredible,” Austin FC coach Josh Wolff said. “We would have loved to reward them for sticking it out.”
An attempt was certainly made to do just that. Austin came out of the break on the front foot and peppered the RSL penalty box with opportunities. The best of which came from Sebastián Driussi from point blank range, though his attempt to chip the ball into the net was swatted away by a sprawling Beavers.
In the 81st minute, though, Salt Lake doubled the advantage through Rubín once again. After an excellent save from Brad Stuver, an RSL cross picked out Maikel Chang at the far post, who played a cutback pass to Rubín for the tidy finish.
In stoppage time, Austin got on the board via a Julio Cascante headed goal from a corner kick, but it came too late to factor into the result.
“Obviously a difficult night and a frustrating night. Odd in many ways,” Wolff summed up.
For the first time in more than a month, Austin FC now has a full week to prepare for its next match, on the road at Sporting Kansas City in the final match of the first half of the season.