In their first-ever match against an MLS opponent, Austin FC fell to the Houston Dynamo 3-2 at St. David’s Performance Center. The match was Austin’s first of the La Copita preseason tournament on Saturday.
Tomás Pochettino scored ATXFC’s first goal in the 16th minute, lining up a free kick from just a few yards outside the box. The 25-year-old found the near-side top corner to beat Houston ‘keeper Marko Maric and give Austin a quick lead.
The Dynamo were able to find an equalizer in the 54th minute through Fafa Picault. The forward took down an awkward ball over the top and found himself behind the Austin backline. He finished calmly past an onrushing Tarbell to level the match.
Houston took the lead just two minutes later after Matt Besler misplayed a pass out of the back. Matias Vera found himself in a dangerous position out wide and swung in a cross to a wide open Maxi Urruti. The Argentine finished nicely first time for the away side.
Rodney Redes equalized for the home side 10 minutes later, finishing with a diving header after Maric was unable to control a swerving Alex Ring shot from distance. The goalkeeper pushed his save right into Redes’ path and the winger finished with ease.
Picualt got his second goal of the day in the 71st minute after beating Julio Cascante in a sprint to a long ball. After getting past the center back, Picault was able to place the ball in between Tarbell’s legs and into the back of the net.
Austin applied some pressure as subs entered the field and Kekuta Manneh almost found Austin’s third but ATXFC ultimately fell short.
Austin will travel to face FC Dallas this Wednesday at 4 pm CST in the second match of the inaugural La Copita preseason tournament. They will finish off the tournament next Saturday against San Antonio FC at 4 pm CST.
GK: Andrew Tarbell; Nick Lima, Jhohan Romaña (Julio Cascante 64’), Matt Besler, Ben Sweat (Hector Jimenez 64’); Daniel Pereira (Wolff 75’), Alex Ring (Sebastian Berhalter 75’), Tomas Pochettino (Diego Fagundez 64’); Rodney Redes (Jared Stroud 75’), Danny Hoesen (Jon Gallagher 64’), Cecilio Dominguez (Kekuta Manneh 75’)
WHAT WE LEARNED
- BEND IT LIKE POCH: Having a threat on direct free kicks is a major advantage for any team. Opponents will know if they foul within 30 yards of the goal, there’s a chance they will see the ball go in the back of their own net. Josh Wolff now knows he has such a threat with the right foot of Tomás Pochettino. Scoring a goal like he did in a competitive match will go a long way towards giving him confidence once the regular season rolls around.
- NO FEAR: There’s little doubt what the team is working on during preseason. No matter the circumstance, Austin were insistent on playing out of the back. This resulted in some nice moves going forward but also some chances going the other way for Houston. Those kinds of mistakes are ones you want to work out in the preseason as Austin gets ready to take on LAFC on April 17.
- OPENING DAY PREVIEW: Austin’s starting XI looked very much like what fans could expect in a couple weeks. The one possible exception could be at left back where Ben Sweat will likely be trying to hold off Zan Kolmanic, who just arrived in Austin and is still in quarantine.