Tomas Pochettino collected a brace in an eventful first-half that saw Houston Dynamo FC reduced to 10 men, as Austin FC claimed victory in their first-ever Copa Tejas showdown, 3-2 over their in-state rival on Wednesday night at Q2 Stadium.
Austin bossed possession in the early going, pushed tempo, and with one particularly positive run of play in the 7th minute, when Pochettino banged in a shot that went off the post and in. It was credited to him, though also caromed off Zarek Valentin to more decisively stand as the opener. Alexander Ring nearly doubled the lead in the 16th minute with a Pochettino-assisted attempt that hit the crossbar.
Then things got more challenging for the Dynamo in the 20th minute, when Darwin Ceren was sent off for a red card, followed five minutes later by Cecilio Dominguez that would have put Houston in a two-goal-plus-one-man hole.
But instead, Tyler Pasher got the Dynamo level in the 27th minute, turning an aerial Brad Stuver save on a Corey Baird shot into a putback goal with Stuver still collecting himself. However, there was more misfortune for Houston, as the goalscorer would go down on his half of the field several minutes later and be replaced by Griffin Dorsey.
Pochettino himself then became the beneficiary of a putback shot attempt, collecting the rebound on Diego Fagundez’s attempt in the first minute of stoppage time and drilling it home. He nearly got a third with one of the last actions of the half, getting his head on a corner kick but pushing it just wide.
He continued pushing for a hat trick after play resumed, but it was Dominguez joining the scoring party in the 56th minute, with Fagundez sending in a cross he met with his head to pad the Austin lead.
Fafa Picault would get one back to embolden the small-but-hardy contingent of Houston fans who made the trip, but the hosts were able to close the match out without conceding an equalizer.
- 7′ — ATX — Tomas Pochettino |
- 27 — HOU — Tyler Pasher |
- 45′ + 1′ — ATX — Tomas Pochettino |
- 56′ — ATX — Cecilio Dominguez |
- 86′ — HOU — Fafa Picault |
- THE BIG PICTURE: Austin really needed this win after three straight losses, and having it come against one of two Texas rivals makes it all the more sweeter. Austin will next try to pick off its other Texas rival, FC Dallas, in a Saturday match that looks all the more enticing with the potential debut of Sebastian Driussi. Houston has now gone 10 matches without a win, which has to be concerning for the Dynamo faithful, though they can also take heart in the team not losing its fight despite being down a player for most of the match.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The second Pochettino goal was what finally, conclusively tipped the match Austin’s way after the Ceren red card helped set the table for it.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: There might be a new Designated Player fixin’ to get into the Austin lineup, but Pochettino’s a DP too, and had a match deserving of that billing, with two goals and ample chances for a third.
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