Pereira, Obrian Lift Austin FC to Fifth-Straight Home Win

ATXFC rises to third seed in the Western Conference

Dani Pereira (left) and Jáder Obrian combined for Austin FC's first two goals in a 3-2 win over Sporting Kansas City (credit: Austin FC)

They say home is where the heart is. For Austin FC, home is where the wins are.

The Verde and Black battled past Sporting Kansas City, 3-2, at Q2 Stadium Saturday night, winning at home for a club record fifth time in a row, and for the second time in 72 hours. A pair of goals from Jáder Obrian – who commemorated his 29th birthday with his first career MLS brace – along with Sebastián Driussi’s third goal in as many games lifted Austin FC to three points and to the third seed in the Western Conference.

“[It was a] complete performance. Complete effort from the guys,” head coach Josh Wolff said. “I know they're exhausted. It was a taxing week and you know they’re gassed, but they’re obviously in a very good space.”

With Austin suiting up for its third match in eight days, Wolff tinkered with his starting lineup to mitigate the group’s collective fatigue. Notably, he gave 33-year-old midfielder Alex Ring a rest in favor of defensive specialist Jhojan Valencia. Valencia slotted in at the No. 6 position usually occupied by Dani Pereira, allowing Pereira to advance much farther forward into Austin FC’s attack than usual. The results were impressive.

Pereira appeared to have scored his first goal of the season when he pounded a loose ball into the back of Sporting KC’s net in the fifth minute. However, VAR disallowed the goal when it was determined that Obrian had been offside in the buildup.

Instead of taking an early 1-0 lead, Austin FC instead went down 0-1 when Sporting KC captain Johnny Russell toe-poked a shot past ATX goalkeeper Brad Stuver in the 18th minute.

SKC, who entered the night winless in their last six MLS matches and sitting second-to-last in the Western Conference, gifted the advantage right back to Austin nine minutes later when Pereira intercepted a horrific pass from SKC goalkeeper Tim Melia inside SKC’s own penalty area. Where a less-composed player might have taken an ill-advised shot, had it blocked and squandered the opportunity, Pereira calmly laid off a pass to Obrian, who buried his open shot for the equalizer.

And 11 minutes after that, the pair’s connection cashed in again for the go-ahead goal when Pereira once again picked out Obrian with a smart assist.

“[Dani] is a good friend of mine, and we’ve been talking for a while like, ‘Dani, give me the ball! Give me that assist!’ And tonight we were able to do it,” Obrian said.

When asked how one celebrates scoring two goals and a win on one’s birthday of all days, the Colombian played coy, saying he planned only to spend a quiet night in with his family. Pereira, however, wasn’t buying it. “He’s lying! Ask him where he’s taking me out tonight!” Pereira teased.

But before the celebrations could commence, Austin FC still had to see out the second half of the match. The club got instant insurance just 40 seconds after the second-half kickoff when halftime substitute Gyasi Zardes clipped in a perfect cross to Driussi, who headed the ball into the top corner for his fifth goal of the season and a 3-1 lead.

Things got slightly uncomfortable when SKC pulled a goal back in the 62nd minute thanks to a rocket of a shot by Jake Davis from outside the box.

Druissi earned but missed a penalty in the 80th minute that would’ve effectively clinched the match, but instead Austin FC closed things out the hard way with some excellent time-sapping tactics to preserve the three points.

Austin FC now gets its customary week-long rest before its next match on the road versus the San Jose Earthquakes, a club that’s become something of a rival of the Verde and Black. That match, however, marks the beginning of another tough stretch of three matches in eight days. Despite the club’s unexpected success of late, Wolff isn’t spiking any footballs yet.

“We have a lot of work to do. We're not a finished product,” Wolff said. “We have to keep grinding. We have to keep pushing forward.”


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

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Austin FC, Dani Pereira, Jader Obrian, Sebastian Driussi, Sporting Kansas City, Major League Soccer

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