AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin FC snapped a streak of nearly 400 minutes without a goal, but their winless streak was extended to six matches in a 2-2 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday at Q2 Stadium.
With Emiliano Rigoni’s first goal in his Austin FC career in the 40th minute, it ended a 395-minute goalless streak for Verde and Black that started following Jon Gallagher’s goal in the 5th minute of a March 25 1-1 draw with Colorado. They went three entire matches without a goal with two losses to LAFC and the LA Galaxy.
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Sebastian Driussi provided an equalizer in the 79th minute to tie the match at 2-2, but Verde and Black couldn’t find another one to get their first win in Major League Soccer play since beating Real Salt Lake 2-1 March 11.
“A lot of progress in this performance, for sure,” Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff said. “We gave up some sloppy goals, but we generated chances and did a good job settling the game down in the second half. We got punished by a mistake, but that’s what the game is about. The three points were there, and we generated more chances than they did, and we just gotta take those chances more cleanly.”
San Jose got on the board first in the 21st minute with a goal by Jackson Yueill, his first of the season. Yueill hit a rocket from about 15 yards that tracked over the right shoulder of Austin FC goalkeeper Brad Stuver and into the top corner of the goal.
Rigoni, one of Austin FC’s designated players with high expectations coming to the squad, finally made the fans happy with his first goal. Rigoni blasted a close-range shot off a headed pass from Rodney Redes in the 40th minute to tie the match 1-1, which it eventually ended at halftime.
“He was one of our leading expected goals guys the entire season, so I wanted to use him in different places to get him closer to the goal and arriving in the box better,” Wolff said. “I’m glad he was able to contribute.”
It wasn’t for lack of chances against the Earthquakes. Austin FC had 2.2 expected goals to San Jose’s 1, so in order for Verde and Black to turn around, Wolff said the club just has to be “cleaner.”
“We’ve got to find more ways to constantly score goals, and we’ve just got to cleaner on the other end and not make mistakes,” Wolff said.
Austin FC hasn’t been healthy at all this season. After center back Julio Cascante went down with a groin injury eight minutes into the season opener, Zan Kolmanic blew out his knee and Diego Fagundez picked up a groin injury that will keep him out about two more weeks. Cascante should be back on the field soon, Wolff said, and with Aleksander Radovanovic shaping into playing form coming in via loan, Austin should be ready for a congested schedule of matches coming up.
Redes’ play was a big positive for Austin FC. As a young U22 Initiative player from Paraguay, Wolff said those players take time to work into getting good on-field results because they’re so young. In Redes’ case, when he joined Austin FC in 2021, it was the first time he’d left home.
“He’s getting a fair chance with the starters and he works tirelessly in training,” Wolff said. “He was a young man when he came here, and 90% of the YPS players take time to get traction. It’s good to see him perform.”
Jeremy Ebobisse gave San Jose the lead with a headed goal in the 75th minute, but Driussi answered three minutes later with the equalizer to get Austin a point in the league table. Driussi, who started at forward in a new 4-4-2 formation rather than his usual attacking midfielder spot, cleaned up a rebound off a Leo Väisänen header. It was Driussi’s second goal of the season, and maybe this was the goal last year’s MLS Golden Boot runner-up needed to get him going.
“Coming out of the LA Galaxy, Seba looked like he was coming back into his form,” Wolff said. “His spirit is our spirit and we go as he goes.”
May is going to be a busy month for Austin FC. They’ve got seven matches between MLS play and the U.S. Open Cup, so managing minutes for the entire roster is going to be of utmost importance to Wolff as the team tries to get back in the win column.
Austin travels to Portland on May 6 for an MLS match, and then they’ll come back home May 10 to take on New Mexico United in the U.S. Open Cup’s Round of 32.