AUSTIN (KXAN) — Verde is going to the Western Conference Finals.
Austin FC rode the strength of two first-half goals from Moussa Djitte and Sebastian Driussi to beat FC Dallas 2-1 on Sunday at Q2 Stadium.
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Austin FC now travels to Los Angeles to take on top-seeded LAFC in the conference finals at 2 p.m. CT on Oct. 30.
It was the first time in six matches Austin FC beat FC Dallas, and what a time to grab that first win over their rivals from North Texas — especially in front of 20,000-plus maniacal fans at Q2 Stadium rocking Austin’s north side with various chants and drums beating well after the final whistle.
“The rivalry is alive and well,” Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff said after the match. “This will help fuel and ignite that. It was a high-level game and one that was packed with entertainment. It would be hard for me to find an atmosphere like that anywhere in the league.”
FC Dallas got on the board in the 65th minute with a goal by Alan Velasco, but Austin FC clamped down the defense and shut the door the rest of the way.
Austin FC goalkeeper Brad Stuver made a tremendous save in the 87th minute to preserve the lead. He made a kick save on a Jader Obrian shot that was headed to the far post. Stuver made four saves on the night, who outshot FC Dallas 18-9.
Verde kept Jesus Ferreira, FC Dallas’ top goal scorer in the regular season, to just four shots on the night. Only one of the shots needed to be saved by Stuver, and he finished with a 74.3% pass completion rate, the lowest he’s had in the past three matches.
Djitte deposited a loose ball that bounced around in the box into the top of the goal in the 26th minute. It was a surprise starting selection for Djitte who had started just three matches the entire regular season, but clearly, Wolff had a feeling about him.
“Moussa can cause problems with what he does,” Wolff said. “In and out of the penalty box, he’s a handful. We transitioned really well in the first half, and Moussa was part of that.”
Driussi doubled the fun in the 29th minute with a shot that skipped across the grass with some pace, beating FC Dallas goalkeeper Maarten Paes to his right side. Driussi created that goal essentially out of nothing but determination and will. He stole the ball near midfield, charged hard at the Dallas penalty area while weaving through defenders, and then sizzled a shot across the face of the goal to bury it in the bottom left corner.
It was just another chapter in Druissi’s legacy with the club, leading the turnaround season with 22 goals and being named a finalist for the MLS MVP award. It was his third goal of the playoffs, and his teammates know why he should be named the league’s best.
“He can find goals and make other players better,” midfielder Diego Fagundez said. “MVPs keep their team in the game, and he’s been doing that all year.”
Driussi has scored in four consecutive matches.
During the regular season, Verde won the fan-driven Copa Tejas with a pair of wins over the Houston Dynamo and two draws with FC Dallas.
Up next is LAFC, who beat their El Trafico rival LA Galaxy 3-2 on Thursday behind a stoppage-time score from Cristian Arango. LAFC won the Supporters’ Shield for having the most points in the regular season and statistically has been the best team in MLS all year. However, Austin FC is 2-0 against them this year, winning 2-1 on the road May 18 and then a resounding 4-1 victory Aug. 31 at home. Needless to say, those results don’t mean much to Wolff right now.
“They’ve made some additions, and we’ll have to look at the film on them,” Wolff said. “It’ll be a challenge, and we’ll dive into it. We’re looking forward to the opportunity and we’ll have our hands full.”
Full time: Austin wins it 2-1.
87′: Stuver makes another save, this one from a Jader Obrian header from Nanu. Verde is closing in on a victory.
85′: Rigoni is shown a yellow card.
84′: Owen Wolff is in for Fagundez and Felipe Martins comes in for Dani Pereira.
83′: Ring’s header flashes over the bar. Looked like he had one there, just a little too high corralling the pass from Rigoni.
82′: Driussi with another chance on a header but it’s saved.
80′: Jesus Ferriera cracks a shot and it’s saved by Stuver.
70‘: Fagundez has a shot saved by Paes from Rigoni.
65′: Velasco finally gets his goal and beats Stuver from close range to the top right corner. Austin FC 2, FC Dallas 1
63′: Austin FC goalkeeper Brad Stuver makes a diving save on a shot by Alan Velasco.
59′: FC Dallas mounting much more of an attack than they did in the first half, and they get a 3-on-2 break. Julio Cascante takes out an FC Dallas player with a late slide tackle and gets his name in the book for a yellow card.
51′: FC Dallas forward Franco Jara got into it with a couple of Austin FC players after he played a ball out behind the goal. Getting a little chippy out there.
Halftime: Austin FC 2, FC Dallas 0: Austin FC gets goals from Djitte (26′) and Driussi (30′). Austin FC won six corners and had eight shots. FC Dallas shot just once and committed seven fouls.
30′: Dream start for Verde here. Sebastian Driussi fires a low shot across the face of the goal and beats Paes. Austin FC 2, FC Dallas 0
29′: Yellow card issued to FC Dallas’ Facundo Quignón.
26′: Austin FC strikes first. It’s Djitte. He hammers a loose ball that bounced around in the box for a bit off a corner. Fell right to him. Austin FC 1, FC Dallas 0
25′: Austin FC wins a corner kick with Fagundez over it. He plays it low to Lima and then it gets knocked out for another corner.
14′: Fagundez wins a free kick from about 25 yards out. He gives it a try and narrowly misses, sending it just over the bar.
6′: Austin FC wins a free kick deep in FC Dallas’ half. Fagundez whips it in the box low and nothing comes of it. Goes out for a goal kick.
2′: First chance for Austin FC and Ruben Gabrielsen’s chip is knocked away from in front of the goal. Driussi served it in the box to him.
Match start: Packed house here at Q2 Stadium. It’s going to get rowdy here.
6:50 p.m.: Starting lineups were released a while ago, and an eyebrow-raiser is Moussa Djitte getting the start at striker for Austin FC. He’s started three matches this season — all of them ended in draws, but I think we all remember that wonderful 20-minute hat trick he scored coming off the bench against Real Salt Lake.