I couldn’t resist a bit of a play on words since I fondly remember reading Charles Dicken’s “A Tale of Two Cities” back in high school and last weekend’s Copa Tejas match between FC Dallas and Austin FC indeed was more of a tale of two halves. Again, as a soccer spectator, it was “the best of times, it was the worst of times” (thank you Mr. Dickens for those resonating words.)
Austin FC has a great defense – how long can they hold out?
Head coach Josh Wolff has established Austin FC as one of the top-notch defensive squads in Major League Soccer and last Saturday night the whole side showed plenty of grit and sheer determination to pull out some points versus FC Dallas.
Nobody can really question the stellar play of the center-backs including Alex Ring, Julio Cascante, and Leo Vaisenan who played the entire match. For the better part of 88 minutes, El Tree fought bravely to pull out even a single point and it looked like this would end in a scoreless draw. In the blink of an eye, a quick strike split down the middle of the Austin FC backline by FC Dallas striker Jesus Ferreira (also of the USMNT) found the net in the 89th minute and just like that, El Tree saw their point chances disappear into the Texas night sky.
A Tale of Two Halves.
The first half of this Texas soccer matchup was entertaining and quite honestly somewhat representative of the “Beautiful Game” we enjoy so much. The second half, well, not so much as both squads looked like they were just slogging away through a 45-minute half in what appeared to be ending as a scoreless draw. Okay, nobody gets excited about a scoreless soccer game unless your team desperately needs points and right now, Austin FC needs some points to keep their heads above water on the MLS table.
Man Down, Man Down!
It should be noted that Austin FC, particularly their defense played hard and didn’t throw in the towel even though they had to plan with only ten players for much of the second half. When in doubt, keep track of how many yellow cards you’ve received in a match, please. This reminder should have gone without saying when El Tree’s Rodney Redes received his second yellow card in the 54th minute of the match. Yes, the second yellow card was warranted and Redes should not have backed away from continuing to play but know your situation when you’ve already been booked once in a match.
The best defense is a good offense.
Having a great offense can easily take the pressure off your backline and any defending midfielders. However, Austin FC hasn’t quite found that out as of yet with only ten goals in 11 matches and a 10.5% goal conversion rate. El Tree sits at 2-5-4 and in 12th place in the Western Conference which means something needs to happen right now on the attacking end or Austin FC is already looking from the outside in just to make the MLS playoffs and it’s only mid-May.
Who will step up to provide more goal-scoring production moving forward? You can’t expect your defense to hold every team to a scoreless draw – that only gets you a point a match and a signal that Austin FC will be watching the playoffs from the comfort of their living room couches.