Austin FC ascended to the top of the West in an instant classic, beating LAFC 2-1 at Banc of California Stadium on Wednesday night.
Ruben Gabrielsen was the unlikely scorer of the opening goal, taking a recycled Diego Fagundez corner kick and juking an LAFC defender en route to a striker's finish in the 13th minute. Fagundez had an on-a-platter chance to double the lead in the 23rd minute, but hit the crossbar for arguably the best scoring chance of the half for either side.
Austin made late subs to go into a back five — unusual for them — after LAFC looked more threatening in the second half largely thanks to Cristian Arango's inclusion. Fagundez finally got his goal in the 80th, thanks to a divine assist from Sebastian Driussi, but Carlos Vela earned a PK and caromed it off the post to pull back a goal. That led to a furious finish; Verde held on through eight minutes of stoppage time to take the hard-earned three points.
- 13' – ATX – Ruben Gabrielsen
- 80' – ATX – Diego Fagundez
- 86' – LAFC – Carlos Vela (PK) | WATCH
- LAFC: Saturday, May 21 at Columbus Crew | 12:30 pm PT (UniMás, TUDN, Twitter)
- THE BIG PICTURE: Austin is now atop the West, coupling their win with Vancouver's comeback over Dallas in a landmark MLS After Dark night. LAFC did well to stay in it when it looked like Fagundez had scored a failsafe insurance goal, but in the end gave up just their first home loss of 2022. The second-year club got themselves a significant milestone: It was Verde's first-ever win in the Pacific time zone.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Fagundez's goal turned out to be the match winner, but in keeping with the goals + assist competition fueling Austin's run this season, Driussi sprung Fagundez with an incredible pass.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Brad Stuver did concede a penalty and got scored on eventually, but had six saves and kept a dangerous LAFC side at bay on their home field — 18 days after cutting his knee in a freak accident that caused him to exit early from a match in Houston.