But unlike in a prior loss at Real Salt Lake, the Verde & Black defied the odds at Stade Saputo via Maxi Urruti's goal to edge past CF Montréal 1-0 despite playing with 10 men from the 44th minute onwards. The second-year club added the milestone of notching a first-ever win in Canada.
The result left Austin tantalizingly close to the top of the Western Conference and Supporters' Shield tables, trailing only LAFC by three points ahead of a huge matchup next Saturday when hosting rival FC Dallas (9:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+).
For Austin head coach Josh Wolff, the win was welcome after they managed only four of 15 points in May to enter the June international break on a slight downturn.
"I'm really, really pleased and proud of the guys [for] a tremendous effort," Wolff noted. "The first half was a little spotty, trying to get control of it, but a very needless red card again for Dani. That's a couple of those – and he was frustrated and disappointed in himself afterward, right ... It puts the team in a really bad spot, but the response from the guys, talking about what was going to be required at halftime, and what the willingness and commitment and togetherness was going to look like, was awesome."
The Week 15 victory, which gives Austin a fourth win against an Eastern Conference opponent in 2022, comes against a Montréal side that went eight games unbeaten earlier this year. They were without US men's national team and World Cup hopeful Djordje Mihailovic (ankle), an early Landon Donovan MLS MVP frontrunner, but there's still quality throughout manager Wilfried Nancy's side.
"We're excited and obviously really, really pleased that we grabbed three points on the road against a good Eastern Conference opponent," Wolff added. "We'll enjoy this and enjoy Father's Day and get back to work. Next week, we have a big opponent – our next six games are critical. This is a real telling time, but the next opponent is our most important one, and that's how we'll prepare."
Wolff also had admiration for Urruti's goal against one of his five former MLS teams, a 67th-minute strike from their "little fox in the box" that stunned CFM.
Goalkeeper Brad Stuver also had a literal hand in preserving the victory, stuffing a close-range Kei Kamara attempt that would have moved the striker from being tied for fourth to tied for third in the MLS all-time goals chart.
The clean sheet came as Montréal had an 11-5 shots advantage and dominated possession by nearly a 2:1 margin. But Austin held firm and, as fullback Jon Gallagher explained, a match last weekend that went somewhat under the radar had something to do with that.
"That was probably a good thing for us to play last week and get humbled by a good side," Gallagher said, referring to a 4-1 friendly loss at Q2 Stadium to Liga MX's Pachuca on June 11 that wasn't broadcast. "It wasn't the result we wanted and it was a kick in the teeth and a wake-up call for us. So the last week, the coaches have really emphasized being combative, winning your duels, not getting beat inside by your men, and just getting back to basics of defending and being hard to play against.
"I mean, no better way to show it than to be down to 10 men on the road and really grind," he added, "You know, to look at the guy next to you and let him know that you've got his back. It was special."