KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KXAN) — Thanks to a Herculean effort from goalkeeper Brad Stuver and a first-half goal from Cecilio Dominguez, Austin FC ended its season-opening eight-game road trip with a 1-1 draw against Sporting Kansas City.
The result feels like another huge win for Austin, especially with SKC dominating possession and playing in Austin’s third of the field for most of the second half.
Austin now has eight points on the season through its first eight games, which have all been on the road. General thinking in MLS is that if a team can average a point per road contest for the year, it’s in good position for the playoffs.
After a 0-0 draw against Seattle two weeks ago to snap a three-game losing streak, Austin now has back-to-back draws against the top two teams in the western conference. Those two results give the Live Oaks some solid momentum as they head into their first-ever home match at Q2 Stadium next week.
Stuver played his best game of the season, recording a career-high nine saves on Sporting’s 11 shots on goal. The only ball that got through for Kansas City came on a deflection after one of Stuver’s nine saves. Stuver left the six-yard box to try to smother the ball inside the penalty area, but he couldn’t secure it. Dániel Sallói one-timed the deflection with his right foot into the lower right corner of the goal to level the score at 1-1 in the 71st minute.
Just as it did in its last appearance in Kansas City in May, Austin struck first. Zan Kolmanic had a run on the left side, and after a quick give-and-go with Jon Gallagher just outside the box, Kolmanic passed it to Cecilio Domínguez, who scored from just inside penalty area.
It was his third goal of the season, and the first for Austin since its last visit to Kansas City on May 9.
Austin had plenty of opportunities to add goals. In the 56th minute, Dominguez beat a pair of defenders and had the keeper one-on-one. He tried a chip shot, but Tim Melia blocked it.
After Kansas City leveled the score, Austin had two more opportunities to regain the lead. Manny Perez had beaten his defender and was alone inside the box, but instead of making the extra pass to Rodney Redes, he took the shot on his own, but missed the goal entirely.
Then, in the 81st minute, Perez had another wide open run down the left side, but this time he made the extra pass to Redes, but his shot missed wide right.
Despite some of those great opportunities, Kansas City dominated most of the second half. Over the course of the match, it won the possession battle, 59 percent to Austin’s 41. But a career-game from Stuver helped the Live Oaks hold on for the draw.
Now Austin can turn its attention to the prize at the end of this two-month long journey to open the season when they host San Jose at Q2 stadium for the home opener. The Quakes will be plenty rested when the visit Central Texas. Their last match was May 29, a 1-0 loss to the LA Galaxy. It was their fourth loss in a row.