AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin FC substitute Maxi Urruti broke a scoreless tie with a nifty goal late in the second half to lift the home side to a 1-0 win over CF Montreal in Major League Soccer play Saturday at Q2 Stadium.
Urruti, who came on the pitch in the 76th minute, one-touched a headed pass from Jon Gallagher past Montreal goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois in the 88th minute. Urruti calmly slid the ball just inside the near post, and it was one of the numerous scoring chances Austin had that found the back of the net.
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Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff said the team built off the performance from the season-opening 3-2 loss to St. Louis City FC and learned from it.
“The subs came in and gave us a big lift,” Wolff said. “The shutout is big for our mentality and we got our first three points.”
Austin outshot Montreal 14-9 and 5-2 in shots on goal. Verde continued to put pressure on Montreal’s defense throughout the second half, and it kept building until the proverbial damn broke. Three minutes prior to Urruti’s goal, Ethan Finlay had a chance inside the 6-yard box stopped by Sirois. Nick Lima headed a ball from the right side into Finlay who tried to slip it past Sirois to the near post, but Sirois was up to the task at that moment and kick-saved it out to touch.
In the 80th minute, Urruti had a shot ring off the right post that Sirois didn’t even react to until it bounced back to him. In the 70th minute, Zardes couldn’t get a foot to a Gallagher pass.
Austin was caught offside three times, one of which wiped out a Gyasi Zardes goal in the first half. Zardes was just a hair ahead of the Montreal backline when Dani Pereira played a ball to him in the 33rd minute. Zardes finished it with a flurry and the Verde fans quickly went from raucous to silent at the sight of the assistant referee’s flag in the air signaling the violation.
Pereira had a goal disallowed in the first half after he was whistled for a foul in the 26th minute. He came together with Rea near the top left side of the 18-yard box and as the center official called the foul, Pereira looped a shot over Sirois’ head and into the net — but it didn’t count.
Austin FC goalkeeper Brad Stuver made his two saves in the first half. Stuver pushed a Sean Rea shot away in the 33rd minute and then eight minutes later he stopped Mathieu Choinière from a close-range score. CF Montreal didn’t have any shots on goal in the second half.
Alex Ring was shifted to center back with Julio Cascante out for at least eight weeks with a groin injury, and he played a tremendous game. It’s not his natural position, Wolff said, but the 2022 Verde captain was more than up to the task.
“He was fantastic. He was a man out there dealing with center forwards,” Wolff said. “It was exactly what you expect from a leader on and off the field. He absorbed the responsibility and he was one of many great performances.”
Wolff said Ring played center back for the club in his first year because of injuries, and while Ring is hesitant to do it, Wolff said he’s a team-first guy.
“Alex helped create some of the chances and he understands his role right now,” Wolff said. “He knows what the team needs right now.”
Austin takes on Violette AC in its first-ever match in the CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday in the Dominican Republic. The two sides play the second leg of the opening round in Austin on March 14. The team with the most combined goals after the pair of games will advance in the tournament.
Between the Champions League games, Austin FC goes on the road in MLS play March 11 to Real Salt Lake.