Driussi dominates, Fagundez celebrates career milestone
By Eric Goodman,
8:08AM, Mon. Mar. 7, 2022
Austin FC players Diego Fagundez and Ethan Finlay celebrate the latter's second goal of the match in a 5-1 win over Inter Miami CF (courtesy of Austin FC)
Austin FC’s fans made a bold claim, its players spent 90 minutes backing it up, and the Oaks continued their dynamite start to the 2022 season with a second straight five-goal performance at home in, per the pre-match tifo, the “Fútbol Capital of Texas.”
“Fútbol Capital of Texas” pic.twitter.com/UIc3riW644— Eric Goodman (@Goodman) March 6, 2022
The Verde on Sunday followed up its 5-0 season-opening victory over FC Cincinnati with a 5-1 dismissal of another middling Eastern Conference foe, Inter Miami CF. Sebastián Driussi and Ethan Finlay each netted a pair of goals and Julio Cascante chipped in with one as Austin FC set an MLS record for the most goals scored in the first two matches of a season in league history.
It all transpired on the biggest stage the club is slated to get during the regular season: a standalone mid-afternoon window on ESPN. For the first time in franchise history, Austin FC became the talk of the league not for its fan support – though that too was fantastic as usual in a true sellout – but for its dominant soccer. And at the center of that conversation was the club’s no-longer-hidden gem, Driussi.
With his second and third goals and second assist on the young season, the 26-year-old Argentine thrust himself into the early MVP-watch discussion, with some help from ESPN color commentator and former U.S. national teamer Taylor Twellman, who repeatedly labeled Driussi a top-five player in the league. Driussi’s coach, Josh Wolff, said after the match that the midfielder’s potential is limitless.
“I’ve been in this league a long time and I’ve seen many playmakers. I’ve seen many Argentinian attacking playmakers that have exceptional quality. I mean, he can set the bar as high as he wants,” Wolff said. “His work ethic, his charisma, his quality is impeccable.”
Driussi put away the opening goal in the 22nd minute, charging into the 18-yard box to meet a Diego Fagundez cross and volley it into the net. Fagundez finished with a pair of assists in his 300th career MLS match; the 27-year-old is the youngest ever to achieve that milestone by roughly three years.
Žan Kolmanič provided a cross of equal quality just four minutes later to find Cascante behind the Miami defense for the second goal. Driussi struck again in the 51st with a Karate Kid style crane kick to bury a loose ball into the top corner and push the lead to 3-0.
The only blemish for El Tree came just seconds later, when an Alex Ring giveaway led to Miami’s sole goal, courtesy of Leo Campana. The play conjured bad memories of a season ago when the club too often gave the ball away needlessly while trying to build out from the back. But unlike a season ago when such a mistake would typically cost Austin FC a result, this time it was only a footnote thanks to the club’s offensive production.
“The ability for us to score goals early and continue to get forward… gives us a little bit of breathing room where one mistake isn’t going to kill us,” said goalkeeper Brad Stuver, who had five saves on the day. “When we make that mistake and give up the goal, the reaction [now] is to go and get another [offensively].”
That’s exactly what the club did in the 64th and 90th minutes, when Finlay bagged his first two Austin FC goals.
Things get significantly more challenging next weekend for the Oaks. They’ll go on the road for the first time in 2022 and face a Portland Timbers team fresh off an MLS Cup appearance. Interested eyes in Austin and around the league will likely get to see just how improved this Austin FC club truly is.
Read more Austin FC coverage – including Eric Goodman’s weekly column, “The Verde Report” – at austinchronicle.com/austin-fc. Follow him on Twitter: @goodman. To get game recaps, news, and analysis delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe at austinchronicle.com/newsletters.
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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST
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Concepts Related to the Article
The article discusses several key concepts related to soccer, player performance, and team dynamics. It highlights the exceptional performance of Austin FC's players, Diego Fagundez and Ethan Finlay, in a match against Inter Miami CF. The article also emphasizes the impact of Sebastián Driussi's outstanding performance and his potential as an MVP candidate. Additionally, it mentions the team's record-breaking goal-scoring performance in the first two matches of the season and the upcoming challenges for the team.
The concepts covered in the article include:
- Soccer Performance: The article focuses on the exceptional performance of Austin FC's players, including goal-scoring achievements and individual contributions to the team's success.
- Player Impact: It highlights the impact of key players such as Sebastián Driussi, Diego Fagundez, and Ethan Finlay on the team's overall performance and success.
- Team Dynamics: The article discusses the team's ability to overcome challenges and maintain a strong offensive presence despite occasional setbacks during the match.
- Upcoming Challenges: It mentions the upcoming challenges for the team, specifically the match against the Portland Timbers, indicating the level of competition and the team's readiness to face stronger opponents.
These concepts reflect the dynamics of professional soccer, individual player contributions, team performance, and the competitive nature of the sport.
I can provide further insights or information on any of these concepts if needed.