Austin FC debut as the 27th club in Major League Soccer in the 2021 season, bringing a long overdue, first ever, top division, major professional sports team to the Texas state capital.
The Austin club was launched in 2018 and now joins the Western Conference to become the third MLS club from Texas after FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo.
Hoping to make an impact in the league straight off the bat when the season begins in April, here’s a look at everything you need to know about Austin FC, the newest MLS club…
Austin chose a ‘bright verde’ shade of green as the club’s signature color, intending to represent the ‘vibrancy and creative energy’ of the city. The 2021 home shirt combines the verde with black stripes in a bold and striking design for the first ever primary jersey.
The secondary jersey is white with primegreen accents.
Austin’s home games will be played at the purpose built Q2 Stadium in the north of the city, which has a very European look to it. Construction on the project began in 2019 and the first match there will be the visit of San Jose Earthquakes on 19 June, a little over two months into the 2021 season.
Q2 Stadium is privately financed at a reported cost of $240m and will have a capacity of 20,500.
Although still popular with ageing veterans looking for a fresh challenge after playing in Europe, MLS has largely moved away from its unhealthy ‘retirement home’ labels and clubs generally direct the bulk of their overseas investment in peak or emerging talents from Central and South America.
Atlanta United are a prime recent example of that as a success story and won the 2018 MLS Cup driven by Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez. Austin have followed the same path and Designated Player status for the 2021 season has been handed to Argentine midfielder Tomas Pochettino and Paraguayan forward Cecilio Dominguez.
Pochettino was developed in the youth ranks at Boca Juniors and played in Argentina’s top division for Defensa y Justicia and Talleres before moving to Texas this year.
Dominguez, meanwhile, has been a Paraguay international since 2013 and has played at club level for Club America in Mexico and Independiente in Argentina in recent seasons, both huge teams.
Elsewhere in the squad, Austin also have MLS veterans to provide much-needed experience, such as defender Matt Besler, fresh from 11 years with Sporting Kansas City, and midfielder Diego Fagundez, who played more than 250 MLS games for new England Revolution between 2011 and 2020.
Austin announced the appointment for former USMNT striker Josh Wolff as head coach way back in July 2019, almost two years before the expansion club was due to make its MLS debut.
This is a first ever head coach job for Wolff, who was previously an assistant to Gregg Berhalter in both the USMNT setup and at Columbus Crew before that. He also worked on the coaching staff at D.C. United when he wrapped up his own playing career in 2012.
As a player, Wolff spent most of his career in MLS, aside from a short spell in Germany with 1860 Munich between 2007 and 2008. He was an MLS Cup winner with Chicago Fire as a rookie in 1998 and later made most of his appearances in the league for Kansas City.
In a nine-year international career, Wolff played 52 times for the USMNT, scoring nine goals, and was on the roster that reached the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup.
Austin chairman Anthony Precourt has praised Wolff for his ‘player-first mentality, deep understanding of MLS, along with his extensive scouting of Concacaf teams and players, and experience at both the club and USMNT level’.
Ex-Manchester City and USMNT midfielder Claudio Reyna is the club’s sporting director and will work above Wolff in the front office. Reyna had previously spent more than six years in a similar role at New York City, gaining specific experience of building a roster from scratch.
Hollywood actor Matthew McConaughey is a minority owner. The Texas native went to college at UT Austin and has made his family home in the city with his wife and three children.
“We want the club Austin FC to be synonymous with Austin,” McConaughey said at this year’s virtual SXSW in his role as the club’s ‘minister of culture’.
“We want the club to be the flagbearer for Austin, inside and outside the sport. My hope is that if you take a snapshot of the stadium on any given night … (it) should look like all the rich and diverse pieces of Austin in one stadium. And now we’re creating a destination for all the different communities in Austin to come together.”