Josh Wolff, head coach of expansion side Austin FC, didn't hold back after their Week 24 setback.
They suffered a 3-0 defeat to in-state rivals Houston Dynamo FC, conceding in the game's first minute and never quite recovering. They're now bottom of the Western Conference table with 19 points from 23 matches, and Wolff didn't hide his frustrations.
Specifically, the first-year manager pointed to Griffin Dorsey's opening goal as being indicative of a larger issue. Austin have now lost six of their last seven and three straight, allowing the Dynamo to celebrate their first victory since May 22.
"Unacceptable. Completely unacceptable," Wolff said. "On a lot of levels, unacceptable. Players' responsibility, intensity when the ball is in play, just the general demeanor of some of our players at the beginning of the game is unacceptable. We talked about what this game was going to be, a team that hadn't won in 16 games, a level of intensity that you need to have first to walk on the field in this league to compete.
"It can't take 45 minutes, it can't take being down 2-0. And our guys know this, and we talked about it, and we've talked about it in the past. There's going to be some changes come Wednesday. We've got three games this week and this was frustrating to say the least."
With 11 matches to go, mounting a late charge back into the Western Conference mix for the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs isn't impossible. But it's certainly a tall order since they have an 11-point gap to make up.
Still, pride is very much on the line for Austin over the stretch run. And captain Alex Ring feels as though their struggles are letting down the club's supporters.
"I feel ashamed, the way the results have gone at home and the way they keep traveling – we don't deserve them at the moment," Ring said. "We have to find ourselves together and we have to right the ship because it's not good enough. It's that simple."
Wolff said no options are off the table when asked about sparking a turnaround. They next face a resurgent LAFC side at Q2 Stadium on Wednesday evening (9 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+).
"The starting point of all this is the mentality and the mindset of what it takes to come on the field," Wolff said. "These guys have played a number of games. Guys that have been a part of our league, guys that haven't been a part of our league, have played enough games to know what's required in MLS. There's just too much softness out there, not winning tackles, not competing, flopping around on the ground.
"It's unacceptable and these guys are going to need to dig in and so are we as a staff, and that's what this is about. We'll get the guys ready for the next game on Wednesday."