AUSTIN (KXAN) — Despite two world-class goals from Sebastian Driussi, Austin FC was punished for its defensive miscues in a 4-3 loss to the New York Red Bulls on Sunday at Q2 Stadium.
The loss snapped Austin FC’s seven-match unbeaten streak and is the club’s first loss to an Eastern Conference team this season. The Red Bulls, third in the Eastern Conference entering the match, are now tied with Austin FC for the best road record in MLS at 7-3-2.
“New York immediately put it on their terms,” Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff said. “The start was poor for a lot of players, and it was a poor week of training. We weren’t sharp enough.”
Driussi’s brace and Ethan Finlay’s second-half goal were simply not enough to overcome Austin FC’s struggles defensively. Egregious turnovers in their own half and New York’s transition offense were too much for Austin’s back line and backup goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell. Tarbell was filling in for Brad Stuver who is recovering from COVID-19.
Austin FC’s offense, however, made it very interesting and proved why it’s the league’s best.
Down 2-0 and time waning in the first half, Driussi provided the strike the home side desperately needed, hitting a low volley from around 25 yards away through a ton of traffic from a headed corner. The shot snuck through several defenders and Red Bulls goalkeeper Carlos Coronel simply couldn’t see it until it was by him to make it 2-1.
Driussi’s second of the match made it 4-2 in the 69th minute. The all-star showed off his skills with a long run toward the goal as he slipped by a defender and then he blistered a swerving ball that sailed past the diving Coronel.
Driussi now has 13 goals on the season and is tied with NYFC’s Valentin Castellanos for the league lead.
Coming off the bench, Austin FC’s Washington Corozo provided what could be the assist of the season so far. From a Driussi service into the box from the right flank, Corozo scissor-kicked the ball back across the face of the goal to a waiting Ethan Finlay in the 81st minute, who then calmly volleyed it in to bring the match closer at 4-3. It was Finlay’s fifth goal of the season.
Austin FC had a couple of chances after Finlay’s goal, but Julio Cascante’s header in the 84th minute was saved by Coronel and Moussa Djitte’s header in the fifth minute of stoppage time was barely mistimed and sailed to the right of the goal.
“As the game went on, we had better parts,” Wolff said, “but it was a difficult start and we didn’t really recover until late in the game.”
The Red Bulls scored twice in the first half to take a 2-0 lead over a shellshocked Austin team that simply wasn’t adjusting to RBNY’s pressing style of defense and transition offense. New York’s Serge Ngoma hit a knuckling shot that Austin FC goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell mishandled, allowing it to go between his legs after he swatted it with both hands for the team’s first goal in the 14th minute.
Austin FC gave it away deep in its territory to allow RBNY’s second strike. Tarbell needed to make a diving save on a shot by Patryk Klimala following the turnover, but Austin FC didn’t clear it and Dru Yearwood struck in the 26th minute with a shot that left Tarbell standing still.
Cameron Harper and Tom Barlow scored goals in the second half for New York. Harper’s came in the 51st minute to make the match 3-1 in favor of the visitors, then Barlow extended the lead to 4-1 in the 65th minute.
Austin FC outshot New York 14-13 and held 78% of the possession.
The loss drops Austin FC to 12-5-5 on the season, but the team is comfortably in second place in the Western Conference with 41 points.
Austin FC travels to take on Sporting Kansas City at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.