AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin FC bowed out of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with a 2-0 loss to Chicago Fire FC on Wednesday at Q2 Stadium.
The Fire scored a goal in each half, and while Austin FC has plenty of chances of their own to score, they simply couldn’t put many of them on goal. Of their nine total shots, Austin put two on goal.
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“It’s disappointing,” Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff. “This was a competition we wanted to progress in, and we looked fatigued and it was sloppy from the get-go. It was concerning.”
One of those shots came in the 84th minute and it was a case of being in the right place at the right time. Ethan Finlay put his head on a Diego Fagundez corner kick, and Chicago Fire goalkeeper Spencer Richey stopped the shot with his face in the 84th minute. Two minutes later, Fagundez sent another ball into the mixer and Alex Ring headed it just over the crossbar.
Gyasi Zardes has Austin’s fist shot on goal in the 53rd minute, but his header from just beyond the 6-yard box was right to Richey who made a comfortable save. In the 55th minute, Alexsandr Radovanovic narrowly missed the top corner of a goal with a header.
In the second minute of the match, Austin FC’s Emiliano Rigoni had a free kick bend just wide of the goal. He struck one well from about 22 yards out that beat the 3-man wall, but just curved to the harmless side of the left post and out for a corner kick. The shot made Richey go into a full stretch and he crashed into the side of the net as the shot went wide.
“The first five minutes of the match I thought was OK, and then it looked leggy,” Wolff said. “There was a bit of sloppiness from a lot of guys, and it almost becomes contagious. That start of the second half was much better. The guys gave better energy.”
Chicago moved in front in the 27th minute following a goal by Rafael Czichos. Brian Gutierrez lofted a corner kick into the penalty area and it found Czichos who went over the top of Leo Vaisanen near the far post. Czichos’ header looped up in the air and Austin FC goalkeeper Brad Stuver didn’t get a good read on it. The shot looked like it may have been headed over the bar, but it didn’t. It fell into the top left corner of the goal and Chicago grabbed a first-half lead.
The Fire scored again in the 77th minute to put the match away. Kacper Pryzbylko, who entered the match five minutes prior, easily finished off a Xherdan Shaqiri pass into the 6-yard box. Shaqiri took a point-blank range shot that Stuver stopped, but Shaqiri gathered the rebound and calmly fed it across the box to a waiting Pryzbylko.
Despite the loss, Austin FC improved on its tournament advancement from last season. After losing to San Antonio FC in their first-ever U.S. Open Cup game last year, Verde and Black beat New Mexico United 2-0 on May 10 to advance to the Round of 16.
It was the first-ever meeting between the teams in any competition.
Chicago will host Houston in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals in June, and now Austin FC can focus on improving their ninth-place standing in the MLS Western Conference. Austin goes to Houston for a Copa Tejas rivalry match at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.