In just one month, Austin FC is back—and the "biggest party in Austin" at Q2 Stadium is opening up once more to both diehards and bandwagoners as the club gears up for its second season starting Feb. 26.
Whether you're a futbol fanatic or just curious about the city's first major league team, here's everything you need to know before beer showers and big celebrations begin again at each Austin FC match.
What to knowAustin FC's Julio Cascante celebrates after scoring in Austin's last home match of the season. (Austin FC/Twitter)
For those not already onboard the Verde train, Austin FC had its first match ever on April 17, 2021, with its first home match taking place at the brand-new Q2 Stadium in front of a sold-out crowd in June. The 20,500 capacity North Austin venue has since hosted 17 home matches, all of them sold out and even held matches for the U.S. men's and women's national teams.
First-time fans can expect the sound of fan band La Murga de Austin echoing over a roaring crowd across the stadium each match. Those craving excitement can head to the supporters' section on the Southside of the stadium, where La Murga and fan clubs Los Verdes and Austin Anthem lead chants and songs all match long. Calmer fans can still find plenty to cheer for in other sections of Q2, including occasional appearances from part-owner Matthew McConaughey and other famous Austinites and local eats and beers located around the stadium.
In its first year, Austin FC captivated soccer fans across the States with its unabashed support, and the club broke the MLS record for the most jerseys sold in a single day in late 2020.
But the club's first season came with struggles—with just nine wins under its belt, Austin FC struggled to find results that matched its supporters' expectations and finished second to last in the West. Check out Austonia's analysis of the first season here.
Fast forward to January, and the club has made tweaks in its roster, including signing big-name players, as it gears up for its home opener against FC Cincinnati on Saturday, Feb. 26.
Projected starting lineup
Expect new and old to mix—on and off the pitch—for Austin FC. Just a few players who first took to the pitch for the club's first ever match remain, including Captain Alex Ring and surprise star goalkeeper Brad Stuver.
Unlike last season, Austin FC may have too much of a good thing in its striker position. With 22-year-old powerhouse Moussa Djitte signing on in the summer and the recent signing of MLS vet Maxi Urruti, it's a guessing game on who will take on the role as the club's top goalscorer. Danny Hoesen, who was pegged as Austin's top striker last season before suffering a season-long injury, will have to earn his spot back if he's to start once more. We peg Urruti, who has now played for all three Texan MLS clubs, as the starting striker for Day 1.
Those supporting the striker include forwards Diego Fagundez and Cecilio Dominguez, both of whom tied as the club's top goalscorer with seven goals each last season. Fagundez will likely compete with recent signee Ethan Finlay at right wing, but the fan favorite shouldn't lose too much playing time; he'll likely sub in for star Sebastian Driussi at attacking midfielder when needed as well.
Ring and newcomer Jhojan Valencia will likely be the yin and yang of Austin's midfield. Sporting Director Claudio Reyna said the team acquired Valencia to play more defensively so that players like Ring can take a more offensive approach, and both will be key to directing each Austin FC match.
The roster gets thinnest on defense, though Austin recently billed a big name in Norwegian center back Ruben Gabrielsen, who has experience in both Norway and France's top leagues. Gabrielsen could find a strong sub in Kipp Keller, a recent college athlete who was the No. 1 defender available in the 2022 MLS SuperDraft. Last year's starters Jhohan Romana and Julio Cascante will likely vie for the final center back spot, while Zan Kolmanic and Nick Lima should keep their spots at left and right back.
The club took a gamble with Gabrielsen and may find itself short for talent once again if a crop of injuries show up once again in preseason. But with a fuller, well-picked lineup and lessons learned from last season, Head Coach Josh Wolff's sometimes-unpopular style of play will have an extra shot at redemption for his second year as head coach.
Dates to know
Diego Fagundez threw up the "LV" in honor of Austin FC fan club Los Verdes after he scored the club's first-ever goal in April 2021. (Austin FC/Twitter)
While Austin's first match won't take place until Feb. 26, a four-game preseason schedule begins at practice complex St. David's Performance Center on Wednesday, Feb. 9. All but one match will be closed to the public, but season ticket holders will be in for a treat with automatic tickets to an international friendly match against Liga MX champions Atlas FC at Q2 Stadium on Wednesday, Feb. 16. Learn more about that here.
The club's first official match will take place against FC Cincinnati, who finished in last place In the MLS East in 2021, at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 26. Other notable matches include rivalry games against Texas teams Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas, with the first home match against FC Dallas on Saturday, June 25 and the first home Houston Dynamo match on Tuesday, July 12.
Austin FC will also take on new MLS club Charlotte FC for the first time in an away match on Wednesday, June 29 before finishing its 29-match regular season at home against the Colorado Rapids on Sunday, October 9.
Most matches will take place on Sundays and Saturday evenings, with five other matches taking place on weekdays. If the club advances to playoffs, it'll wrap up in time for the 2022 FIFA World Cup held in Qatar from Nov 21-Dec 18, 2022.
Check out the full 2022 schedule here.
Where and how to watch
Austin FC's supporters' section has become known as one of the biggest parties in Austin. (Claire Partain/Austonia)
The best thing about Austin FC may not always be what's on the pitch, which is why the club's energetic home matches are in such high demand week after week. Fans can join the thousands-strong waitlist for season tickets here or purchase any regular season single-match ticket now here. Ticket prices tend to range from around $30 to over $100. Click here for everything you need to know before attending a match.
Those wanting to watch away matches can join the hundreds of Los Verdes and Austin Anthem fans that travel to support their team. Fans looking for a simpler answer can also head to watch parties and Austin FC Pub Clubs around the city to catch a match. Supporters' group HQs Hopsquad Brewing and Circle Brewing bring in-stadium excitement to every match, home or away, just steps from Q2 Stadium, while Austin FC itself hosts official watch parties each week.
For a quieter fan experience, fans can tune into each match on regional channels KXAN, CW Austin, MyNetwork, Univision, ALT 97.5 FM and TUDN Radio Austin. Eight matches will also be nationally broadcast. Austonia will provide coverage of every game as well.
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By Patrick Svitek
Beto O'Rourke caused a dramatic scene on Wednesday when he angrily confronted Gov. Greg Abbott at his news conference about the Uvalde school shooting, yelling, "This is on you."
After Abbott was done giving his initial remarks, O'Rourke approached the stage and told Abbott he was "doing nothing" to combat gun violence. He said the Uvalde massacre, in which a gunman killed 19 children and two adults, was "totally predictable."
Some of the Republican officials onstage with Abbott quickly denounced O'Rourke, telling him to go away. Another man onstage used expletives to criticize O'Rourke for interrupting the event.O'Rourke was eventually escorted away amid the unruly scene.
“I can’t believe that you’re a sick son of a bitch that would come to a deal like this to make a political issue,” Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin told O'Rourke at one point.
Nineteen kids and two adults are dead after a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas—a small town an hour and a half west of San Antonio—on Tuesday afternoon.
Gov. Greg Abbott said the suspect, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, is believed to have been killed by the police. The Uvalde Police Department said the shooting began at 11:43 a.m. Tuesday.
“What happened in Uvalde is a horrific tragedy that cannot be tolerated in the state of Texas,” Abbott said. “He shot and killed—horrifically, incomprehensibly.”
Texans are grieving for the victims of this senseless crime & for the community of Uvalde.
Cecilia & I mourn this horrific loss & urge all Texans to come together.
I've instructed @TxDPS & Texas Rangers to work with local law enforcement to fully investigate this crime. pic.twitter.com/Yjwi8tDT1v
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 24, 2022
According to University Health Hospital officials, a 66-year-old woman and 10-year-old girl arrived in critical condition. Uvalde Memorial Hospital reportedly received 13 children for treatment and two individuals who were already deceased. At the time, it was believed 14 had died in this shooting.
The shooter prompted a lockdown at the elementary school of just under 550 students, with San Antonio Police sending SWAT, and Eagle chopper and Crime Scene Investigators.
According to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, President Joe Biden has been briefed on the tragedy and “His prayers are with the families impacted by this awful event, and he will speak this evening when he arrives back at the White House.”
At 21 deaths, it is the deadliest school shooting in Texas and one of the deadliest in the U.S. since 26 at Sandy Hook Elementary lost their lives. This is the U.S.'s 213th mass shooting of 2022.