The Austin Chronicle

The Verde Report: Austin FC Needs Better From Captain Sebastián Driussi

Accountability matters

By Eric Goodman, April 28, 2023, Sports

Let's establish something. Austin FC has been terrible lately. Not opinion. Not spin. Fact. No goals scored in nearly four full games, no wins in the last five. Last weekend against then-winless LA Galaxy, the Verde and Black were just what the doctor ordered for Chicharito and company, who sailed to a comfortable, confidence-boosting 2-0 win. (If only Austin could play Austin one of these weeks.)

So consider it established ... Austin FC hasn't been good enough. Which begs the question, what on Earth is Sebastián Driussi talking about?

On Monday, the club's superstar midfielder and newly minted captain posted on Instagram a pair of team photos from the Galaxy match along with the befuddling caption, "No importa que hagas el 99% de la cosas bien, la gente siempre mira el 1% malo. Juntos hasta el final." Translation: "It doesn't matter if you do 99% of things well, people will always look at the bad 1%. Together until the end."

To quote a once-beloved "Weekend Update" segment ... Really?!? Really, Seba? That's the message this club's anointed leader has chosen to share? That's the story he has chosen to tell? As the kids today would say, this ain't it. I could attempt to articulate why, but it would never come out better than how avid Austin FC supporter Collin Gwin summed it up to me this week: "If this is our 99%, then we are ASS."

Bingo. At best, it's a clumsy, tone-deaf post. At worst, it's a condescending dismissal of some fully deserved heat the club has taken from fans and media in recent weeks. Listen, it's clear what Driussi was trying to say. The sky is not falling. The team is not crumbling. The hard work is being put in (which, by the way, is literally the bare minimum expectation for professional athletes). But that's not what he said. And when you wear the captain's armband, it does indeed matter what you say.

It mattered what Alex Ring said when he served as the club's captain during years one and two. Much has been made of the preseason decision to take the armband off Ring and hand it to Driussi. My read on that situation – and it's purely a read, not a report – has always been relatively benign. Ring entered the season apparently having lost his starting midfield role to Owen Wolff, and since you can't wear the armband on the bench, somebody else had to take it. Driussi seemed the most logical choice. Fine. Either way, Driussi – by way of his intoxicating talent – is the unquestioned face of the club. That's true whether he personally likes it or not, though I certainly don't doubt that he does.

Then again, adversity always reveals more about a person's character than success. Driussi hasn't scored in MLS play since a cage-rattling 3-2 loss to expansion side St. Louis in the season opener more than two months ago, his longest stretch without a goal since joining the club. His teammates – the ones who have avoided injury – have not picked up the slack in any way. These are frustrating times. Not everyone is built for them.

Brad Stuver is. Austin FC's goalkeeper has routinely stepped up to take accountability for the club's lack of offense. Read that sentence again and appreciate the hilarity of it.

"When you guys [the media] ask to talk to players, I will always put my hand up to give you the answers and what I'm feeling," said Stuver, the lone ATX player made available after the Galaxy match.

That attitude shouldn't go unnoticed. Accountability matters, and it shouldn't fall entirely on Stuver to provide it. That responsibility should fall to the captain.

99% of the time, at least.

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