Brilliant blast by Ring in game's final seconds gives Austin FC draw at New England

Austin FC forward CJ Fodrey, left, and midfielder Alex Ring celebrate Ring's game-tying goal against the New England Revolution in extra time Saturday night, resulting in a 2-2 draw.
Austin FC forward CJ Fodrey, left, and midfielder Alex Ring celebrate Ring's game-tying goal against the New England Revolution in extra time Saturday night, resulting in a 2-2 draw.

The late goal finally went Austin FC’s way.

After two straight games of yielding a late score in either stoppage time or the 89th minute in gut-wrenching losses, El Tree scored in the final seconds Saturday night to earn a much-needed 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium.

Alex Ring’s brilliant hit from the top of the box in the 94th minute broke a three-game MLS losing streak and gave Austin FC its first league point since defeating Kansas City 2-1 on July 15. Emiliano Rigoni put El Tree ahead 1-0 in the first half before Tomás Chancalay’s two goals gave the hosts the lead.

Here are some thoughts from the match as Austin FC (9-12-6, 33 points) enters the two-week international break in 10th place in the West:

Important result

Aside from when it tied Dallas last year to win Copa Tejas, this is probably the most important draw in Austin FC’s short history.

Seconds away from suffering a sixth straight loss across all competitions, El Tree now has a sliver of momentum going into the break before it begins a critical five-game stretch for its postseason hopes against clubs at the bottom of the standings.

It’s also notable that New England is undefeated at home with a 10-0-4 mark, so Austin FC is one of only four clubs to leave Gillette Stadium with a point.

Maybe this result didn’t vault El Tree up the table, but from a soccer mental health standpoint, its importance is immeasurable.

Man of the match: Alex Ring

Starting in his preferred spot in the midfield for only the second time this season, Ring played from start to finish, and his goal was a reminder that he spent time in Germany’s top division. He was quality the entire game with great distribution, and if he can rediscover his form from late last season, that’s good news for Austin FC going forward.

Ring still hasn’t talked to the media this season, a point of running comedy among the press corps, but his health and importance to the club are critical.

El Tree strong most of the second half

While part of this is due to playing from behind and New England not being as aggressive, El Tree was very good the final 35 minutes of the match.

Austin FC had the majority of possession and produced quality chances, and goalkeeper Brad Stuver was rarely challenged. It was a nice response after the Revolution dominated play immediately following Rigoni’s goal in the 27th minute.

Lineup moves

For the second time in three games, Austin FC coach Josh Wolff didn’t start a striker. He used a 4-3-3 formation, with Sebastián Driussi, Rigoni and Jon Gallagher up top.

While Gallagher traditionally plays outside back, he spent the majority of his career as an attacking player, and he had a nice cross to Rigoni on the game’s first goal. And in his return after a one-game suspension, midfielder Dani Pereira was strong for essentially the entire game and nearly had a highlight-reel goal when he hit the post late in the second half.

Center back Leo Väisänen made his first start since May coming back from a knee injury and turned in a good 60-minute shift.

Recent defensive issues persist

After Rigoni’s goal, Austin FC allowed New England to tie the game less than 30 seconds later.

That can’t happen.

Center back Julio Cascante had a poor clearance attempt on a cross before Chancalay slid the ball past Stuver. On New England’s second goal, outside back Adam Lundkvist was beaten on a header by Chancalay.

El Tree’s defense has been shaky at points since the Leagues Cup, and those two plays continued that trend.

Next five games are critical

The next five matches will make or break Austin FC’s season.

Portland, the Los Angeles Galaxy and Colorado are currently the worst teams in the West, the New York Red Bulls are 13th in the East, and D.C. United occupies the East’s ninth and final playoff spot.

That’s a stretch in which El Tree needs to compile at least 10 points before it ends the regular season against league power LAFC and on the road at San Jose. A year after having no drama the final month of the season as it essentially knew its playoff position, Austin FC will face the exact opposite this fall.

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Austin FC gains much-needed point at New England on Ring's late finish