Bravos Defeat MLS Club Austin FC in Historic Match
FC Juarez wrote a significant page in their young history on Saturday night when they defeated Austin FC by the score of 3-1 to advance out of the group stage and into the knockout stage of the inaugural Leagues Cup. It was the first ever official international match for FC Juarez against an opponent from another league.
The site, a near sold out Q2 Stadium, home of Austin FC, one of the gems in the MLS’s arsenal of new soccer specific stadiums. FC Juarez was able to comeback from an early 1-0 deficit to score three unanswered goals to get the win in the Texas capital. It was a victory to a match that head coach and technical director Diego Mejia had referred to as the "most important match in the club history."
As a result, the Bravos will now travel to Los Angeles to face MLS defending champion, LAFC on Wednesday night.
The hero of the night for Bravos was Aitor Garcia who scored two goals in the second half to give his team the victory.
The scoreline opened in the 23rd minute when Ethan Finley received a pass from Owen Wolff down the right flanked, Finley dribbled it a couple of times before taking a right footed strike to get it past Juarez goalkeeper Ramon Paquel to give Austin a 1-0 lead.
In the 35th minute Sebastian Saucedo got the equalizer, scoring off of a free kick to make the match 1-1 going into halftime. Austin was the better team in the opening 20 minutes of the match, but FC Juarez was the better team as the opening half progressed every minute past that.
This dominance for Juarez continued to be the case for the rest of the match. Aitor Garcia scored twice in the span of the seven minutes (62nd and 69th minutes respectively) to lock up the victory for the team from the Borderland.
Garica’s first goal came when a cross Luis ‘Chaka’ Rodriguez went straight to him. Garcia took a right foot to the ball as it approached him, Austin goalkeeper Brad Stuver had no chance at the save. Aitor’s second goal was all his own. Garcia received a cross in the opposing goal box, shook off a couple of defenders and created his own space to take a right-footed strike that put the ball in the back of the net.
After the match, Bravos’ boss Diego Mejia started his post match presser by thanking Bravos supporters who made the trip to Austin and showed up not only to the stadium, but to the team hotel. As for the match Mejia said, “In the beginning we were completely dominated. The complicated things for us with how they positioned themselves on the field. The scored on us because of this, because they did things well. After that we made two adjustments that allowed us to even the match and get the equalizer. From there, well, I’m happy with the result.”
The Bravos will now turn their focus to a quick turnaround. Wednesday night they will face LAFC at BMO Stadium in southern California in the round of 32. The defending MLS champion will be well rested as they received a bye in the group stage of the tournament.
A kickoff time has yet to be scheduled for this match. However, regardless of the time, the match will be televised nationally via streaming on Apple TV. Whether a network will pick up the match as this was the case for a handful of matches in the group stages of the tournament is still to be determined.