HIGHLIGHTS: Austin FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC | August 18, 2021
It wasn't the prettiest first half for either team, but Austin fans did get to see their stadium bathed in the verde light accompanying home goals, thanks to Ring's 37th-minute tally off a Sebastian Driussi corner kick. Ring deftly headed the ball to the far post past a diving Maxime Crepeau, making it the first MLS assist for Austin's newest Designated Player.
But perhaps even more shocking than the sight of an Austin goal – just the team's 14th this season, and their first off a corner kick – was Cecilio Dominguez, the team's first Designated Player, subbing off at the half-hour mark for Jon Gallagher. Dominguez didn't appear to come off for an injury, though he was held out of the starting lineup in the match against FC Dallas the Saturday before last due to a lingering bout of illness, coming into that match as a sub.
For the Whitecaps, the first half was a frustrating one, as they outshot the hosts 8-5 but had six of those shots blocked and couldn't get a shot on goal.
That changed after halftime, though, as the 'Caps put their newest Designated Player, Ryan Gauld, into action. Gauld, like Driussi, put in the corner kick to set up his team's opening goal. That came in the 52nd minute, with Nerwinski finding enough space in front of goal to pop in the ball the Scotsman served up.
Austin continued to make attempts to get the lead back, with Tomas Pochettino skimming a shot just over the crossbar in the 58th minute, and just missing on another shot seven minutes later. Gallagher missed on a 60th-minute header to add to Austin's mounting armada of almosts.
In the 74th minute, the 'Caps took the lead on a counter arguably against the run of play, with Deiber Caicedo making a run down the left flank and sending in a pass to Gauld, who crossed it to White. The former New York Red Bulls striker timed his far-post run perfectly for an easy finish.
Gauld nearly added to Vancouver's lead in the 80th minute on a breakaway, but the ever-consistent Brad Stuver made a kick save to keep Austin in it. The hosts nearly got the equalizer via another Gallagher header, set up on a Nick Lima diagonal cross, that ended up on just the wrong side of the crossbar.
- THE BIG PICTURE: When the No. 12 and 13 teams in the West get together, it doesn’t really move the playoff needle too much, but this was a good win for Vancouver that they can perhaps build on. Gauld got his longest runout of the season so far and looked impressive – before long, he could be pulling strings from the jump and connecting the talented attackers the ‘Caps have compiled. For Austin, it’s another futile home loss in a season with a paucity of goals. In his post-match press conference, Wolff said the team uncharacteristically "hit a wall" with its energy levels – particularly Dominguez, whose physical struggle in his time on the field prompted his early sub.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The go-ahead counter was beautifully executed and worth watching again (unless you’re an Austin fan).
GOAL: Brian White, Vancouver Whitecaps - 74th minute
- MOMENT BEFORE THE MATCH: There was a fantastic moment even before the match started. Austin fans got out their cell phone lights during “O, Canada” to show solidarity with the Whitecaps Academy players who allegedly suffered a racially motivated attack over the weekend, which the league made a statement against yesterday. Their team might be having a tough go of it, but the ATX supporters are still undefeated.
Austin fans show solidarity with Whitecaps Academy players
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Is Gauld really known as the “Scottish Messi?” He put in a great performance in a single half, enough to change a match that Caicedo was beginning to affect.