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Josh Wolff takes responsibility for Austin FC disappointment vs. Violette


Austin FC knew what to expect in its Concacaf Champions League debut on Tuesday night in the Dominican Republic, but even in knowing what Haitian side Violette AC would bring to the table, the MLS club still couldn’t avoid a lopsided first leg loss.

Josh Wolff took responsibility for the Western Conference club’s 3-0 defeat on Tuesday, which gave Violette AC its first victory under the new CCL format. Despite not having star attacker Sebastian Driussi in the squad, Austin FC offered little to the first leg showdown, falling down in the first half and never recovering.

After taking major strides in Year No. 2 of its MLS existence, Austin FC took a huge step back in its debut to the annual tournament.

“I take responsibility for not having these guys mentally in the right space,” said Wolff. “Concacaf is a different animal. We talked about it, we tried to emphasize it. We have some of that experience inside the group, but I have to create more tension in their minds in understanding what this game’s going to look like. 

“It’s going to be dramatic, it’s going to be difficult, it’s going to have ebbs and flows,” he added. “And we talked about that at length, but I didn’t do a good enough job getting them ready. That’s on me.”

Both of the first half goals that Austin FC conceded were shear images of each other. Roberto Louima used his dribble and pace to deliver crosses into the box from the left wing, both of which were headed home by Miche-Naider Chéry in front of Austin FC defender Amro Tarek.

Tarek got the nod ahead of fellow offseason arrival Leo Vaisanen, while fullback Nick Lima was moved into a centerback role for the match. Tarek’s night ultimately got worse in the second half when his failed clearance turned into an own goal in the 47th minute, condemning Austin FC to a humiliating debut result.

With Julio Cascante injured and a short turnaround to Saturday’s MLS trip to Real Salt Lake, Wolff made several starting lineup changes, but those did not help Austin FC’s cause in the performance.

“We don’t have great relationships along the backline at the moment,” Wolff said. “Nick [Lima] was playing center back, Amro was also in there for the first time. Those relationships haven’t been built out and developed yet.

“We’re certainly undermanned at center back, to say the least at this point, but those players are good enough to handle it,” he added. “We could have managed those situations better, but I think those relationships or lack thereof certainly make it a little more challenging.”

Austin FC also offered little to nothing in the final third for the entire 90 minutes. Driussi’s absence led to Maxi Urruti, Diego Fagundez, and Ethan Finlay to lead the offensive attack, but all three MLS veterans were held in check by the stingy Violette backline, as Austin FC registered just one shot on goal.

After conceding three goals in two of its three opening matches to far, pressure will be on Austin FC to not only improve at the back, but also leave it all on the table at Q2 Stadium next week.

“I’m really disappointed with the result, the performance to a lot of degrees,” Wolff said. “But again I’m going to take responsibility. I did not get these guys wound up enough to compete and understand what this was going to be about, even as much as we talked about it. 

“We’ll rebound,” he added. “We have a big game against Salt Lake on the weekend. We’ll fly back tomorrow and we got to lick our wounds, rally and get ready for another big match. We’ll see these guys again on Tuesday.”


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