SANTIAGO, Dominican Republic (KXAN) — An own goal in the second half exacerbated a lackluster performance by Austin FC in the franchise’s first-ever CONCACAF Champions League match Tuesday.
Austin FC fell 3-0 to Haitian side Violette AC in the opening round’s first leg, meaning when the teams play again in a week at Q2 Stadium, it will take four Verde goals for them to advance in the tournament without any extra time.
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Miche-Nadier Chéry scored twice on headers in the first half for Violette against an Austin FC defense that looked a step slow the entire match. Austin defender Amro Tarek was trying to clear the ball out of the penalty area after a Brad Stuver save and accidentally put it in Verde’s goal in the 47th minute to account for the eventual final score.
“I take responsibility for not having these guys in the right space,” Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff said. “I didn’t do a good enough job getting them ready for this.”
Austin FC had a great chance to get on the board in the 87th minute, but Maxi Urruti’s shot from about 15 yards away rattled the crossbar. Violette outshot Austin FC 13-10 and held a 6-1 advantage in shots on goal.
The starting XI for Austin FC wasn’t typically one head coach Josh Wolff would use for a Major League Soccer match, however, there were several first-team choices on the field and things didn’t work out. Wolff said the artificial turf surface at Estadio Cibao led to some of the team’s better players not making the trip. Also, Wolff said he’s prioritizing Verde’s upcoming MLS match on the road against Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
Even so, it was a disappointing result against a team that hasn’t been able to play an entire professional season since 2018. Violette also hasn’t been able to use their home stadium because of the massive earthquake that struck the nation in 2010.
“We didn’t do well enough with the ball to get anything done,” Wolff said. “We didn’t respond as well as we could of.”
There’s still one more match, and given the players for Austin FC who didn’t make the trip and should be available for next week like Sebastian Driussi and Alex Ring, it could be a completely different result at home. It also depends on who is able to make the trip for Violette, but losing by multiple goals puts Verde behind the proverbial 8-ball.
“I truly do believe we can still get this thing done,” Wolff said. “We have more than enough quality in our locker room to get it done at home, but we’re going to need our fans to push us.”