Austin benefitted from a pivotal movement in the seventh minute when Josecarlos Van Rankin caught Dominguez on the edge of the box with just enough force to send him down. After Video Review, the penalty was given, and Dominguez finished what he started, freezing Steve Clark with a penalty kick that went just inside the right post.
Then the hosts turned on the jets with two more goals in quick succession. Three minutes after Austin's opener, Nick Lima crossed in a ball that Fagundez found to his liking, heading it home emphatically to double the lead. Then, with Verde sending numbers forward in the 29th minute, Bill Tuiloma made a brave goalline clearance on Jon Gallagher's attempt, but Fagundez was there to collect the rebound and send an outlet pass to Driussi, who one-touched it into the net for a three-goal first half.
The Timbers put on Sebastian Blanco as a halftime sub, and he very nearly made an immediate impact, bending a point-blank shot into the side netting in the first minute after the restart. In the 55th minute, Portland finally got their opening goal on a Dairon Asprilla rocket from beyond the 18-yard box.
Difference-makers for each side, Diego Valeri and Tomas Pochettino, both entered the game around the 75-minute mark, even as Austin's other subs tipped in a more defensive direction. They both figured into an 84th-minute chance for Portland, when Pochettino committed a yellow-card foul on Blanco, allowing Valeri to set up for a free kick that went past his entire line of attackers.
Pochettino then had a chance as the final man on an Austin surge toward goal right as stoppage time started, but he hit his shot at Clark – just one of two second-half shots on goal for Austin after notching seven in the opening half. By that point, Austin had done all they needed to secure the home win — very nearly replicating the scoreline of their exultant 4-1 win over the same Timbers on July 1.
- THE BIG PICTURE: If Austin’s going to mount a playoff run – an unlikely yet not impossible endeavor – this is a good place to start. Clearly, Austin’s good at hosting Portland, winning both contests at Q2 Stadium by a combined 7-2 scoreline. If it comes down to Decision Day presented by AT&T for the expansion side, they’ll be at Providence Park aiming for a result. Then again, given the Timbers’ post-match status two points below the playoff line in the West, they might need a Decision Day result themselves to get into the playoffs. While Blanco's runout was encouraging, they came close to experiencing a shutout on the way to three straight matches without a win.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Sebastian Driussi's goal punctuated a fantastic opening for Austin, and it’s a sign of what they're expecting from their newest Designated Player.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Diego Fagundez was vital to Austin’s fortunes with a goal and an assist to put the match out of reach.