Three Austin FC-bound players were part of a valiant effort Wednesday evening in their final match with Club Guaraní. However, fortune ultimately smiled on their Paraguayan Primera Division tournament final opponents, Olimpia, who bested Guaraní in a dramatic 5-4 penalty shootout after the teams dueled to a 2-2 draw.
Both Cecilio Domínguez and Jhohan Romaña started for Guaraní in the tournament finals, with first-ever Austin FC signing Rodney Redes making a second-half substitute appearance. All three players contributed in the tournament run that placed them in Wednesday’s championship match, with Domínguez scoring the deciding goal in Guaraní’s opener against Libertad on Dec. 23.
Domínguez was active in Guaraní’s attack throughout the first half, and in the match’s 23rd minute, delivered a ball inside the penalty area that made contact with an Olimpia player. It appeared as if Guaraní would get on the scoreboard then, but Cristian Báez sent his penalty kick wide.
He would atone for it later in the half, however. Guaraní got a 36th-minute goal from Nicolás Mána to take the lead, on a deftly-volleyed shot that eluded Olimpia goalkeeper Alfredo Aguilar at the near post, and then Báez opportunistically scored on a corner kick less than three minutes later to double the lead.
Olimpia would claw back level in the second half, though, with Jorge Recalde staying just onside to score Olimpia’s first goal from open play, and Alejandro Silva converting a penalty kick after Báez was whistled for a questionable handball call.
Olimpia lost defender Sergio Otálvaro to a red card in the 72nd minute, but Guaraní wasn’t able to capitalize on the advantage, even though Redes subbed on for Mána to add some spark and energy to the Guaraní offense in the 77th minute.
All three Austin FC players played together only briefly; Domínguez was subbed out in the 81st minute, as Guarani manager Gustavo Costas opted for forward Fernando Fernandez in an attempt to secure a third goal.
After regular time and eight minutes of stoppage time, the match went straight to penalty kicks. The initial round of five kicks finished with four conversions for each side. Then, in the sixth round, Raúl Bobadilla couldn’t match Braian Ojeda’s successful PK for Olimpia, and the perennial Paraguayan champs celebrated in front of goal. Neither Redes and Romaña were utilized in the six-round shootout.
New Guaraní fans in Austin were treated to a lively match featuring the Texas-bound players. Romaña, in particular, took opportunities to showcase his speed as well as his aerial acumen. Though it was a bittersweet ending for the trio’s time in yellow and black, they’ll leave Guaraní having contributed to a successful season that just fell short of lifting a trophy.