Austin FC earned its fourth shutout of the season in a 0-0 draw with Columbus Crew Sunday night in front of a sellout crowd of 20,738 at Q2 Stadium. Despite a spirited performance and 17 shots against the defending MLS Cup Champions, Austin FC continue to seek its first goal and first win at Q2 Stadium.
The Verde and Black made clear its intention to attack from the opening kickoff as Austin FC’s Tomás Pochettino found fellow midfielder Jared Stroud pushing forward on the right flank. Midfielder Diego Fagundez met Stroud’s centering pass with a fierce side volley that narrowly missed the target just 18 seconds into the match.
For much of the first half, Austin looked comfortable in possession – even in its defensive third – while making Columbus chase. The Crew countered in quick bursts that lacked precision. Late in the half, the clubs traded chances, the best of which was Pochettino’s 22-yard bid that Crew goalkeeper Eloy Room parried away at the near post.
Early in the second half, Crew playmaker Lucas Zelarayán’s deflected shot from distance forced a quality save from Austin FC goalkeeper Brad Stuver. At the other end, Austin FC winger Jon Gallagher drove a low cross that teammate Cecilio Domínguez picked up to no avail. Stuver scooped up two more Zelarayán shots before denying Crew forward Gyasi Zardes from point-blank range in the 74th minute.
Energized by the home crowd, Austin FC continued to press forward until the final whistle. Fagundez fed Domínguez in the penalty area, but his shot sailed high. A couple late corner kicks failed to bear fruit for the home side.
Head Coach Josh Wolff on the team’s performance and execution: “It’s a solid performance; I think it was pretty good execution with the things we talked about. We had some flexibility in our offensive structure. We needed to get a little more pressure on them as they started to get a foothold on the game at times. We also changed our defensive structure, but overall I’m never going to fault the effort. Our guys kill themselves, they bust their asses, and they work tirelessly. It was nice to be home. The fans pushed us. It’s an unbelievable atmosphere, it really is.”
Head Coach Josh Wolff on having Alex Ring out on the field and his impact on the midfield: “Alex is a warrior, he’s an absolute beast, and I said last week when he went out before the game, and then [Nick Lima], another one of our quiet leaders, went out it affects the team. It unsettled them clearly and it affected our ability to play the way we typically do. He helps drive guys, and he helps with Tomás [Pochettino] and Diego [Fagundez]. Again, Diego has been such a strong player for us, so consistent, but when you have those guys in the middle of the field working together it becomes infectious around the field… He’s a great leader for us and we have a number of quiet leaders so he’s been solid and he’s been strong.”