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Austin FC head coach says it's 'just the beginning,' as preseason takes off
(Claire Partain)

Over three years after Austin FC was announced as an upcoming MLS team, Head Coach Josh Wolff spoke with the media on Tuesday about the team's first days on the pitch.

The team is now two days down with official preseason training as the team prepares for their inaugural season starting April 17. Wolff said that it is satisfying to finally make it onto the field after years of work.

"There's a lot of people that put in a lot of work over the past two years for us to get us to this point," Wolff said. "For it to finally come to fruition and be out the field with the guys this last week... it's great."

Wolff talked leadership, strategy and player health in the team's first-ever preseason press conference. Here's a few key takeaways on the state of the club:

Training strategy

Wolff has described his leadership style as "being detailed and disciplined and having energy," and said he's happy to have both experienced and young players on the team.

"I want a dynamic group that's hungry and eager to play," Wolff said. "We want to play a certain way that's going to take a bit of bravery and courage."

With players from all levels of experience and all corners of the globe, Wolff said their initial strategy has been unifying player strategies by focusing on offense.

"I think the first thing is trying to get the players to understand philosophically how we want to play, that the ball is our friend and we want to possess the game," Wolff said. "That's the starting point, to sort of bridge all of these different ideas and personalities together into a collective mold."

When finding a unifying team culture, Wolff said it's important for team leadership to help embody Austin FC standards.

"You certainly want to set the standard quickly," Wolff said. "It starts with the environment of our leadership, our coaches, our front office, and that's something that we bleed into the team."

Team leadership

Wolff said that no team captain has been announced but that there are plenty of players who carry leadership qualities.

"I think we've done a good job bringing in a lot of players that exude that leadership quality... and that helps build out our identity," Wolff said. "I don't think we'll be short on leadership options."

While no captains have been released, forwards Rodney Redes and Cecilio Dominguez have been standouts in the first two days of training. Redes, who was filmed scoring a goal in a team video, has been described as having great energy on and off the field.

"Rodney's always smiling (and) he works tirelessly," Wolff said. "His verticality, to run behind lines, to arrive in the penalty box, I think that's the most impressive."

Wolff said that Dominguez, who has been training as an attacking midfielder and can play both inside and wing positions, has great position flexibility.

"Most importantly, he's got great energy, but his ability to hear what we're trying to teach and apply it quickly is nice to see," Wolff said. "What you like about him is his calm and cleverness, his mobility and movements in and around the box and his desire to score goals."

Recruits, injuries and transfer updates

With 23 players on its roster, Wolff said that their senior roster is "near completion" but that they will continue to look for supplemental players throughout the season.

The team is currently missing two signed players: designated player Tomas Pochettino and young Slovenian defender Zan Kolmanic. While Pochettino should be available next week, Wolff is unsure when Kolmanic will make it into town.

Luckily, no players have injuries that should sustain into the season so far (knock on wood), and Wolff said that the team is fairly healthy.

Although ATXFC is finally on the field, Wolff said he doesn't know if they'll ever feel a "we made it" moment unless a trophy is lifted.

"It's a testament of where we've come as a club and an organization in a short time," Wolff said. "You're able to get out on the field which is certainly a pinnacle of all the work that we've done, but it's just the beginning."

While no official schedule has been announced, it is rumored that the MLS will announce home openers Wednesday afternoon with full team schedules to be released in coming weeks.


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