The first half tested Brad Stuver, who was forced into three saves, including one on a 20th-minute Toni Datkovic header attempt that was nicely set up by an Aaron Herrera diagonal cross. But RSL beat Stuver in the 32rd minute, getting down the right flank via Jonathan Menendez, who crossed into Wood. The former US men's national team striker found space between two defenders to slash in a header that bounced past Stuver and in.
Wood's opener was all the more bitter for Austin since they had two promising chances just minutes earlier. First, Diego Fagundez sizzled in a shot from beyond the 18 that hit the post. Then on the continuation, Hector Jimenez crossed to Tomas Pochettino for a header that flashed just wide of its target. That was as good as it got for the visitors during the first half, as they held 60 percent of the ball but registered zero shots on goal.
The second half started dramatically, as a Verde turnover less than two minutes after play resumed led to Justin Meram bearing down on goal and Julio Cascante pulling him down just outside the box. Originally ruled a yellow card, the sequence went to Video Review and referee Dave Gantar changed it to red. Austin head coach Josh Wolff then pulled No. 1 SuperDraft pick Daniel Pereira, a catalyst in midfield, for center back Jhohan Romana in order to maintain a true back four.
Wolff was forced into another sub in the 72nd minute when Sebastian Driussi, making his first start but struggling to make his impact felt, took Marcelo Silva's cleat to his leg and came off, clearly worse for wear, for Jon Gallagher. RSL made their own subs, including one that took advantage of a sibling rivalry, getting midfielder Nick Besler on to match Austin defender Matt Besler.
Austin only managed one shot on target the entire match, though Stuver added to his lore with four additional second-half saves to keep RSL at one goal. But it was another futile night for Austin, who have failed to score in 11 of their last 14 contests. And RSL snapped a three-game winless run of their own.
- 32' – RSL – Bobby Wood | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: In a tightening Western Conference race, this win certainly helps RSL maintain a playoff position. It wasn’t a masterpiece, but it was brutally efficient. The result could loom large for RSL and those just missing the playoffs come November. Right now, Austin FC are struggling to enter the hunt; they’re still failing to get goals consistently and not giving standout goalkeeper Brad Stuver much relief.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Wood’s goal included a heart-warming celebration and was a reminder that the 28-year-old's still got what it takes in front of goal. But the match really turned on the red-card decision.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: In addition to scoring, Wood had a team-high 11 duels and won a majority of them to contribute to RSL's total team effort.