LOS ANGELES — Austin FC dropped its first game against LAFC in the club's MLS debut, 2-0.
Jose Cifuentes added a goal into an open net in the 91st minute for LAFC, which improved to 4-0-0 in season openers in franchise history.
LAFC played without top goal scorer Diego Rossi, and then lost former league MVP Carlos Vela to an early injury.
After a well-played first half, LAFC went ahead when Baird — a Southern California native acquired from Real Salt Lake in January — celebrated his debut by firing a low shot into the corner off a pass from Danny Musovski.
Pablo Sisniega made two outstanding saves on shots by Austin’s Jon Gallagher in the closing minutes, including a reflex stop in the 90th minute that eventually turned into a goal at the other end when Kwadwo Opoku took the ball from two Austin defenders and fed Cifuentes.
LAFC had about 4,900 fans in its 22,000-capacity stadium, including 600 fans in the raucous North End supporters’ section. Dozens of green Austin FC jerseys were scattered through the crowd — no surprise for a much-anticipated team that already had four supporters’ groups before its first match.
Alex Ring wore the captain's armband for Austin FC's first-ever MLS match.
“Alex Ring has the perfect attributes to lead our team, on and off the pitch, as club captain,” said Claudio Reyna, Austin FC sporting director. “We are lucky to have a team full of leaders, so Alex has significant support throughout the team to help us achieve our objectives as we embark upon our inaugural season.”
Austin FC started the season ranked No. 21 out of 27 MLS teams, according to a power ranking from MLS.com writers, editors and columnists. LAFC was ranked No. 2 headed into the match with Austin FC.
Only four expansion teams have ever won their first game in Major League Soccer:
- The Chicago Fire started their MLS history with a victory on March 21, 1998 – defeating fellow expansion club Miami Fusion 2-0 at Lockhart Stadium (the Fusion had lost their first match ever the week before to D.C. United).
- Seattle Sounders FC defeated the New York Red Bulls 3-0 on March 19, 2009 at Qwest (now Lumen) Field in their first-ever league match.
- Vancouver Whitecaps FC knocked off Toronto FC to open the 2011 campaign, at Empire Field in Vancouver.
- Los Angeles FC opened their history in 2018 with a 1-0 win against Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field, as head coach Bob Bradley guided an expansion team to an inaugural win for the second time, the only coach in MLS history to lead two different teams to wins in their first league matches.
KVUE took an in-depth look at the multi-year process it took to bring Austin its first professional sports team. You can check out that timeline here.
Throughout Austin FC's inaugural season, get the latest news and updates at kvue.com/austinfc.
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