After overcoming an early deficit, the Austin Aztex were unable to hold the lead and lost 3-2 to the Seattle Sounders 2. With the win, Seattle ends their regular season on a high by snatching the last playoff spot in the USL Western Conference.
The Aztex found themselves down a goal early in the match. Similar to last week in Colorado, Austin gave away a penalty in the opening minutes. Aztex defender Max Gunderson was called for a handball in the box. Sounders 2 Sergio Mota scored the opener with a confident penalty. But unlike last week, the Aztex responded immediately. Tony Rocha took a speculative long range shot. It deflected to fellow teammate Trevin Caesar who smashed the ball past Sounders 2 goalie Charles Lyon. The action was end to end and Seattle almost took the lead moments later. Seattle’s Damion Lowe unleashed a wicked shot that looked destined to curl away from Austin’s goalie Cody Laurendi. The keeper made a spectacular diving save to tip the ball away from goal. Austin took their first lead in the game in the 38th minute. Columbus Crew SC loanee Romain Gall banked a shot from outside the box off a post and past Lyon. Austin was leading 2-1 and looked certain to carry the lead into halftime. But in first half stoppage time, the Aztex defense broke down after failing to clear their lines from a corner kick. The Sounders 2 were able to send a second cross in that Nicholas Miele headed back towards goal and Ashani Fairclough nodded into the net. The home side levelled the score 2-2.
The Aztex have struggled to finish their chances this season even when they have taken more shots than their opponents. They bucked that trend in the first half by scoring twice while being outshot 13-5. But they could not overcome their second half woes. Going into the game Austin’s opponents have won the second half by a cummulative score of 23-10. The Aztex team worked hard over the course of the game, but in the last ten minutes Seattle started finding space inside the Aztex box. Laurendi stood tall to deny a one-on-one moment when the Aztex defense was opened up in the 83rd minute. He deflected the shot out for a Seattle corner. Then it happened again. Austin did not clear their lines from the initial corner. Sounder 2 Aaron Long lobbed the ball back into the Aztex box and an unmarked Miele volleyed it home. The Austin Aztex players protested to no avail that Miele was offside.
With the 3-2 victory, Seattle Sounders 2 march into the postseason with their first win in the last five matches. The Austin Aztex have one more game to close out the season. They continue their season ending road trip in Vancouver on Septemeber 20th against the Whitecaps 2.