Austin FC has been waiting for its third home win. On Saturday night at Q2 Stadium against the Portland Timbers, Josh Wolff’s team got it, winning 3-1 thanks to three first-half goals. Cecilio Domínguez, Diego Fagundez and Sebastián Driussi all scored to lead Austin to its fifth win this season.
Domínguez got it going early for Austin after several forays forward by the Verde & Black in the opening minutes. The forward was in open space 1v1 with Timbers defender Josecarlos Van Rankin in the seventh minute and managed to beat the right back, forcing a foul inside the box. It was not called initially by referee Guido Gonzales Jr., but the penalty was eventually given after Video Review.
The Paraguayan coolly finished the penalty into the bottom right corner for his fifth goal of the season as ATXFC took a lead in the 11th minute. He played a part in Austin’s second goal just three minutes later.
After receiving the ball from Diego Fagundez, Domínguez played right back Nick Lima forward into open space. The right back hit a perfect cross that found the head of a streaking Fagundez and the midfielder left no doubt, finishing in the top corner.
Austin’s third goal came in the 29th minute thanks to some beautiful play in the final third. Sebastián Driussi found a pocket in between Portland’s lines and fed Alex Ring the ball at the top of the box after a dummy from Domínguez. Ring played a wide open Jon Gallagher, but the Irishman’s shot was cleared off the line. Luckily, Fagundez picked up the rebound on the endline and played it back to Driussi, who finished off the play he started to score his first with Austin FC.
Austin continued the onslaught for the rest of the half but took the 3-0 lead into halftime. Both teams came out firing to start the second half, but Portland got one goal back in the 55th minute after winning the ball in Austin’s half. Dairon Asprilla fired a shot from outside the box that found its way into the back of the net.
Portland continued to push to get back in the match, but Brad Stuver came up big -- including a beautiful diving save low to his left to deny Yimmi Chara in the 60th minute. After that, with the help of the substitute Jhohan Romaña, Austin was able to lock down the Timbers attack and cruise to a 3-1 win.
- SOMETHING IN THE WATER: Austin FC likes when Portland Timbers comes to town. On July 1, Austin dropped four goals on the Timbers to win its first match at home. ATXFC almost matched that on Saturday night, scoring three goals -- all in the first half -- to capture its third home win.
- DRIUSSI UNLOCKED: Driussi started his first two games for the Verde & Black in the striker position. On Saturday night, Josh Wolff shifted him to his more natural position as an attacking midfielder or second striker and the Argentine consistently was able to find pockets of space and play line-breaking passes to unlock the Portland defense in his 62 minutes. The decision proved to be the right one, with Driussi getting his first goal for the Club.
- CECILIO BACK UP TOP: After coming off early against Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Domínguez came out looking to prove a point against Portland. He scored early and was involved in all three goals as he reverted to a position he played for much of the season -- striker. Austin’s No. 10 got on the ball, helping to unlock the defense, and also made runs in behind to open up space for other players to make plays.
- Wolff on Domínguez bouncing back: "I love Cecilio, I really do. He's a genuine human being first and foremost and he knew was in a bad place for [the Vancouver game]. He knew he performed poorly and was disappointed in himself and apologized to the team afterwards, but I also told him we're here to help... I was ecstatic for him. I knew he was in a good place, we talked about it for about 30 minutes a couple days ago and I knew he was going to perform well."
- Fagundez on why Austin has success against Portland: "I don't even think it's Portland. I think the hunger we've had as a team -- we've been wanting goals, we've been wanting to play well. We are playing well but results aren't showing that. Once we score one our team lights up and we can go and score more."
- Wolff on Driussi's performance: "His impact is instantaneous. I've been in this league for awhile and I've seen players come and it takes time to settle in -- he's obviously a high-level player. The human side of it -- his ability to immediately pull players together, to have a natural gravitation to him for dialogue, for spirit, for soccer, for everything. Those things are sometimes not recognized enough."