Top 10 Moments of Austin FC’s 2022 Season
The highs from Verde's sophomore season
Memorable and historic as it was, from an on-field perspective Austin FC's inaugural season in 2021 was a struggle. This year, that all changed. The local soccer squad orchestrated a sophomore season glow-up of epic proportions, and we were all witnesses. From securing in-state supremacy to locking up the first playoff appearance in franchise history, here's a look back at the top moments from Austin FC's unforgettable 2022 season.
10) A Defensive Leader Joins the Fray After the retirement of Matt Besler following the 2021 season, Austin FC entered 2022 desperate for a stable presence in central defense. The club found that and much more in Norwegian center back Ruben Gabrielsen, signed January 24 from Toulouse FC in France. Gabrielsen was the club's most dependable defender throughout the 2022 campaign and became an immediate leader in the locker room.
9) Starting the Season in Style El Tree wasted no time asserting itself as a force to be reckoned with in MLS in 2022, opening the season with jaw-dropping 5-0 and 5-1 wins over FC Cincinnati and Inter Miami CF, respectively, at Q2 Stadium. Those attacking outbursts proved to be a sign of things to come as ATXFC finished the season among the league leaders for goals scored.
8) Bucking the Trend in D.C. When Austin FC walked into Audi Field on April 16, it had been nearly a full calendar year since the last time the club won an MLS match on the road. Down 0-2 to D.C. United at halftime, it seemed as though that streak was destined to continue. But three ATX goals in the final 10 minutes completely flipped the script and earned the Oaks the first of several dramatic come-from-behind victories during the season.
7) Euphoria Against Sporting KC Speaking of comebacks, Austin FC needed one on Aug. 13 to rescue another early 0-2 deficit, this time at home against Sporting Kansas City. Five goals and 20,738 heart attacks later, the Verde and Black emerged with a 4-3 win capped off by a Sebastián Driussi goal in stoppage time that coach Josh Wolff dubbed "euphoric."
6) Djitté Hat Trick Clinches Playoffs By September, it wasn't a matter of if Austin FC would clinch a playoff berth, just a matter of when and how. Moussa Djitté provided that answer, coming on as a substitute against Real Salt Lake on Sept. 14 and scoring the first hat trick in ATXFC history. That he did so in the span of just 20 minutes only adds to the legend of the Moose.
5) Hey Seb, You’re an All-Star Sebastián Driussi was a phenomenon in 2022. The 26-year-old Argentine midfielder made MLS his personal playground throughout the season, posting 25 goals across the regular season and playoffs, the most of any MLS player. While he fell just short of MVP accolades to Nashville SC's Hany Mukhtar, Driussi did become Austin FC's first-ever representative on the MLS All-Star team.
4) Toppling the Top Squad The Black and Gold of LAFC just about had their way with the entire Western Conference throughout the 2022 regular season en route to Supporters' Shield honors. Only one club got the better of them both times of asking: Austin FC. First it was a gutsy 2-1 Verde victory at Banc of California Stadium in May. Then, later in the summer, the Oaks went supernova in a 4-1 thrashing of the eventual MLS Cup Champions at Q2 Stadium, easily the club's most impressive regular season win to date.
3) Capturing Copa Tejas Back in 2021, Austin FC watched from the sideline as FC Dallas lifted the inaugural Copa Tejas – a bragging rights trophy for Texas MLS supremacy – at Toyota Stadium in Frisco. A year later, the Verde and Black successfully turned the tables on their in-state rivals. A late strike by Diego Fagúndez secured a 1-1 draw for ATX, enough to lift the Copa in the Toyota Stadium parking lot after the game (venue staff reportedly refused to let the celebration take place on the field).
2) Downing Dallas in the Western Conference Semis As it turned out, Austin would get another crack at Dallas before season's end as the Lone Star squads met in the second round of the MLS Cup Playoffs at Q2, with a spot in the Western Conference final on the line. Josh Wolff got his tactics spot-on and Austin got goals from Djitté and Driussi. In the end, the 2-1 scoreline flattered the visitors.
1) PK Pandemonium in Playoff Debut Austin FC's first foray into the MLS Cup Playoffs delivered in every possible way, with drama from start to finish. Real Salt Lake shell-shocked the Central Texas club with two goals in the opening 15 minutes, but gave the Verde boys a lifeline in the form of a foolish red card early in the second half. Driussi equalized from the penalty spot deep into stoppage time to force the match into extra time, and eventually a penalty shoot-out, where folk hero goalkeeper Brad Stuver made two huge saves to secure an unforgettable victory for the home side.