AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin FC took advantage of a shorthanded FC Dallas team and was ruthless in a 3-0 Copa Tejas victory late Wednesday night at Q2 Stadium.
It was the first-ever victory over FC Dallas during the Major League Soccer regular season for Verde and Black and a tremendous start to the second half of the season.
“We outplayed them today,” Austin FC midfielder Diego Fagundez said. “We were frustrated about what happened the last game and we wanted to make sure we punched them this game. We’re at home so that should be what we do to them.”
FC Dallas was without forward Jesus Ferreira, who scored the game-winning goal in the 89th minute the last time the squads played May 13, due to international duty with the United States Men’s National Team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. FC Dallas was also without midfielder Paul Arriola who is recovering from a thigh injury suffered in the May 13 match.
Two first-half goals provided the hot start Austin FC needed against its Lone Star State rivals, and then Verde and Black decided that wasn’t enough. Gyasi Zardes connected on Austin FC’s third goal of the match in the 58th minute, the 101st goal of his illustrious MLS career. Zardes gathered a pass from Nick Lima down the right side of the 18-yard box, then smashed it by FC Dallas goalkeeper Maarten Paes to turn the Q2 Stadium lights green for the third time.
For the first time all season, Austin FC put three shots in the net and the attack was relentless. Austin made Paes make four saves with 15 shots overall and seven on target.
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Fagundez scored his first goal of the season on a brilliant strike in the 42nd minute, taking advantage of Paes coming off his line to defend a Dani Pereira cross. After Paes swiped away Pereira’s cross, it didn’t go quite far enough and was collected by Ethan Finlay. He laid it off to Fagundez, who took a couple of steps back to gather himself, and then lofted a perfectly weighted shot over Paes and the FC Dallas defense to make it 2-0.
Fagundez described a bit of clairvoyance from Finlay leading up to the play.
“Right before that play, Ethan came up to me and said, ‘Hey, the next play I just might slip it back to you, so shoot.’ A couple of plays go by, and then literally everything he said came true. I was ready for it, and when I saw the keeper off his line, I just had to make sure I had the chip in.”
Right after he hit it, he was worried he didn’t put enough power on it. His worries quickly faded to excitement because he hit it perfectly.
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Finlay provided the opening marker in the 17th minute. Jon Gallagher drove a low cross into a crowd of people in front of the 6-yard box, and after it glanced off Paes and Austin FC defender Julio Cascante, it fell to Finlay who guided a short shot into the goal. It was Finlay’s second goal of the season.
The match was moved back an hour to 8:30 CT due to sweltering heat and humidity, but as thunderstorms swept through the area and lightning flashed, the match didn’t kick off until shortly after 10 p.m.
Austin (6-8-4, 22 points) moved up four spots in the Western Conference standings with the win to eighth. Dallas (7-7-5, 26 points) is tied for sixth with Real Salt Lake. Austin doesn’t have much time to enjoy this win as they face Houston at Q2 Stadium on Saturday.