Austin Bold FC open new stadium with win over San Antonio FC


Austin Bold FC head coach Marcelo Serrano joked with his team before Saturday's match that they'd never forget the first time.

The first-year club opened up its brand new stadium at Circuit of the Americas with the first win in club history, a 1-0 win over San Antonio FC in the first Central Texas Derby. Austin forward Kléber scored the game's only goal.

"It was important for us to deliver a good game and an organized game," Serrano said. "When we started this franchise, we told Austin we want to play an exciting game. We're not going to wait for the counterattack, we're going to play the game."

Austin was outshot 15-8 but held a slim 2-1 advantage in shots on goal. San Antonio had 14 fouls to Austin's 12 and three yellow cards were issued.

Bold goalkeeper Diego Restrepo earned his second clean sheet of the season and 18th of his USL career. He played the last two seasons with San Antonio FC, earning USL Goalkeeper of the Year honors and a spot in the league's best XI in 2017.

"I had mixed feelings, obviously," Restrepo said. "I had a good time in San Antonio personally and professionally. At the end of the day, this is a job, and I'm excited to be with the Bold and we did everything we could to make the team successful."

The stadium itself was so new, you could still smell the sawdust while sitting in the stands.

But that didn't stop fans from packing every one of the seats with 5,803 fans in addition to standing room only packing the newly-constructed facility.

"Once the game got going and the crowd was cheering, it was amazing to see," Bold defender Amobi Okugo said. "The (front office) told us about the project, but we hadn't seen it yet. To finally see it and have it all come together, we've got to thank everybody."

It was the first win of the season for the Bold, who began the year with a pair of games on the road, a 0-0 draw at Las Vegas Lights FC on March 8 followed by a 2-1 loss to Reno 1868 FC on March 16.

The wind played a factor early on. Every time Restrepo tried to boot a goal kick long or either team tried to switch the field, a gust would either carry the ball further than wanted to stop it in its tracks.

Xavier Baez had the best chance of the first half for the Bold 12 minutes in, but his shot sailed just over the top corner.

The second half started slow, much like the first half.

San Antonio had a few chances to break through, but any chance was either sent wide or grabbed by Restrepo.

Kléber broke through with the Bold's lone goal in the 78th minute when hew as in the right place at the right time. A corner from Baez was headed across the front of goal and Kléber was on the other side to poke it in. It's the second goal in three USL games for the Brazilian.

"That's why I brought him here," Serrano said.

San Antonio FC had a few good chances in the final minutes, one bounced off the crossbar and another rebound was tipped high by Restrepo.

"The fitness is not there yet, but with the organization, we were able to hold on," Serrano said. "Today, for the first time, we felt a little bit more ready physically to play. Restrepo was there when we needed him."

Austin is on the road next Saturday, heading to California to take on the Sacramento Republic. The Bold return home for the first of three-straight home games, beginning against Phoenix Rising FC on Wednesday, April 17.

"We're a first-year franchise and we're building excitement," Serrano said. "Who has the guts to say, ‘Let's go to the playoffs in the first year and try for the title?' We need to keep building on the physical side and we need to keep the belief. It's going to be hard, but we need to try."

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