Austin FC has been through the ringer for their first season: a seven-week stretch on the road to kick off, one goal in seven games, and a slew of injuries that left half of the club's starters off the pitch at one point.
Here's a quick look at who's on, who's off and who's been injured on the Austin FC roster to date.
Jon Gallagher, forward: unknown foot injury
The same foot that kicked in Austin FC's first home goal could keep forward Jon Gallagher out of the next few practices or matches.
Gallagher said he downed some Ibuprofen just before he scored the first goal at Q2 Stadium. By the end of the first half, Gallagher said he was "pretty useless," and he was seen on crutches around halftime, though he was walking regularly as time went on.
Gallagher said he's unsure on the verdict of the injury.
"I don't know the extent of it. Hopefully it's not too bad," Gallagher said after the match. "Mentally, it's a bittersweet night because I don't know how bad it is."
Danny Hoesen, striker: out indefinitely on hip injury
Hoesen has been out for several matches in a row but may recover by the end of the season. (Danny Hoesen/Instagram)
Fans were dismayed when Head Coach Josh Wolff announced that Hoesen, who had been the offensive frontman at the beginning of the season, would be out for the season on a hip injury.
Luckily, Sporting Director Claudio Reyna clarified a day later and said Hoesen is progressing well after surgery and could be back sooner. "We're still hopeful that he could recover in time for the later games in the year," Reyna said.
The club has made a few moves to help out the striker position, though Reyna said they were looking to sign new forwards during the summer transfer window regardless. The club signed 21-year-old Moussa Djitté from Grenoble in the French Ligue 2 on Monday, and Reyna said their third Designated Player slot is still open.
Nick Lima, right back: pulled hamstring
Nick Lima is out indefinitely after pulling a hamstring against Minnesota United. (Austin FC/Twitter)
While Ring (right ankle) and Besler (right foot) recovered just in time to help shut out the Columbus Crew on Sunday, Wolff said Lima will be out "for a little while" as his pulled hamstring heals.
In his stead is Hector Jimenez, who Wolff said is the only true right back they have left in a press conference after the Minnesota match. Jimenez, who suffered an injury himself in his first start of the season in May, has helped the club to their second shutout at Q2.
Aaron Schoenfield, forward: left knee
Aaron Schoenfield has yet to debut with the club due to injuries. (Aaron Schoenfield/Instagram)
Aaron Schoenfield, another scoring option for the club has yet to make his debut with Austin FC after a "setback" with his left knee. Wolff said that "it'll still be a good ways" before Schoenfield can hit the pitch for the first time, furthering a need for new signees up top.
Ulises Segura, midfielder: left knee
Segura's debut has yet to be determined this season as well after the midfielder underwent knee surgery near the start of the season. Both he and Schoenfield have been out for the entire season to date on left knee injuries.
Ben Sweat, left back: ACL tear
Starting left back Ben Sweat suffered one of the first matchday injuries with the club, and the verdict was an athlete's worst nightmare. With an ACL tear, Sweat is looking at a long path to recovery, though he's already undergone surgery and has been spotted doing exercises on his injured knee.
Sweat's injury propelled new signee Žan Kolmanič into the starting XI just after flying in from his former team NK Maribor in Slovenia. Wolff has praised the 21-year-old Kolmanič for his fitness and eagerness on the ball, but Sweat will still be welcomed with open arms the next time he hits the pitch.
While a five-man injury list may not be ideal, Austin has seen some quick recoveries so far: Besler and Ring are back in tip-top shape, No. 1 SuperDraft pick Daniel Pereira has returned after a stint on the bench, Jhohan Romana is once again available at center back, and Rodney Redes, who suffered a "ding" to his knee, has seemingly fully recovered.
The club will need all hands on deck as they attempt to combat the scoreless "curse" (we're the only ones calling it that) at Q2 Stadium.
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By Jo Clifton
Members of the city’s living wage work group urged City Council Tuesday to raise the city’s living wage to $22 an hour for the upcoming fiscal year. They said the wage should apply to all regular and temporary city employees except employees of the summer youth program, regardless of position or number of hours worked.
Council members Vanessa Fuentes, Ann Kitchen, Chito Vela, Kathie Tovo and Pio Renteria have already signed on to a resolution on the June 16 agenda calling on the city manager to adopt a living wage of $22/hour in next year’s budget.
The current living wage is $15/hour and that has not changed since 2018. City management raised employees’ wages to $15 as a result of a recommendation from the living wage working group in 2015.
The Human Resources Department convened the working group again this year, asking for its recommendations on a living wage. According to staff’s calculations, providing a $22 minimum wage would cost the city between $18.2 million and $22.8 million, not including wages for police.
Carol Guthrie, business manager for AFSCME Local 1624, told Council during its work session that it’s time to raise wages so the city can meet the demands of the public and its own employees. With inflation, gas prices and rising housing costs, Austin city employees are suffering and underpaid, she said.
While the city raised its minimum wage to $15 in 2018, it failed to keep raising that amount, which should have become $16.83 the following year.
According to documentation provided by the city, as of the end of April, the city had more than 2,474 vacancies, compared to about 1,559 on May 1, 2019. The vacancies include 78 at Austin Resource Recovery, 266 at Austin Energy, 96 in Public Works, 237 at Aviation, 133 at Parks and Recreation, 357 in the Police Department, 198 at Emergency Medical Services, and 126 firefighters.
City employees are suffering, Guthrie said, with some working so much overtime that they have become injured and ended up on the disability list.
City leaders did not foresee the pandemic, nor did they foresee the freeze. “And those additional stressors have played a big role in where we are at today. But something’s got to give. We need more workers. We cannot hire workers. Those who work here – they’re done, they’re spent. They need your help. We’ve got to be competitive. We have got to raise the wage for these workers.” The private sector is now hiring at $20 an hour, Guthrie said, and the city is not able to compete.
Rachel Melendes of UNITE HERE, the union representing some airport employees, said working at the airport is “too stressful. They are overwhelmed,” she said, noting that many airport workers arrive at 3:30 a.m. and leave at noon. “And despite their hard work they are not able to support their families on the city’s wages.”
Fabiola Barreto of Workers Defense said her group has been observing that “the folks constructing the city are not reaping any of the benefits. They’re moving to Buda and Kyle,” because they can’t afford to live in Austin.
Complicating matters, every Council member is aware of the fact that, as a result of state law, they can’t raise taxes more than 3.5 percent without the permission of voters.
Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison voiced her support of the wage proposal. She said she is telling people in her district that they should be prepared to move out of Austin as prices rise higher. That would be better than waiting until they have missed rent payments, she said.
Council Member Alison Alter told her colleagues she is committed to a wage increase, but could not commit to a specific number. She said, “Keeping our workforce competitive is the highest priority.”
Kitchen said it was her goal to reach $22 as recommended by the working group. She said it was particularly important that the public understand the trade-offs city management might have to make in order to pay the amount employees need. She told City Manager Spencer Cronk, “Get us to $22. If you can’t get us to $22 … tell us why.”
Guthrie told the Austin Monitor after the meeting that she and other members of the working group would be at the Council meeting next week to push for adoption of the $22/hour resolution. However, she said she was disturbed that the working group put in so much effort seven years ago to tell the city to raise wages, but there was no action on their recommendations after the city raised the living wage to $15.
Guthrie said she and others would be ready to fight for their wage proposal. In addition to AFSCME, other members of the group include representatives of Central Texas Interfaith, Workers Defense Project, Laborers’ International Union 1095, IBEW Local 520, the Austin chapter of General Contractors, Plumbers Local 286, Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Austin LGBT Chamber, UNITE HERE, Local Progress, Texas Antipoverty Project and the Equal Justice Center.
When Mark Coffey moved to Austin in 1986, it was the land of Stevie Ray Vaughan shows, MTV and new opportunities.
Now, it may be the land of limited housing, property tax hikes and California license plates—but many are still choosing to stay for remnants of that old-school charm.
Austinites love to lament the loss of “Old Austin”—they’ve been saying it since 1884. And with one-bedroom rents up 112%, home appraisal rates up 56% and the cost of living on a seemingly endless upward trend, it's hard not to see Austin's past through rose-tinted lenses.
But even in money-stretching times like these, some Austinites are taking a break from their usual complaints to remind themselves why they choose to stay.
Mark Coffey has stayed in Austin for decades due to its uniqueness, inclusivity and community. (Mark Coffey)
As a near-original Austinite, Mark Coffey didn't have too much trouble buying a house or finding a job with pension benefits at a local utility service decades ago. Still, he said he's stayed in Austin for more than financial security.
"Despite the cost of living, the brutal heat and traffic... I think the trade-off is that Austin has always kind of had that sense of possibility," Coffey told Austonia. "Of all the cities in Texas, it's been the most open to change and future possibilities and I don't think that's ever completely lost."
Austin's unique spirit has attracted like-minded small-town Texas kids looking for community. Gabriel Rodriguez, who grew up in the Rio Grande Valley, moved to Austin a few years ago after graduating from Texas State University and still hasn't become bored with the vibrant live music scene.
Gabriel Rodriguez, who has experience as a musician has found a home in Austin's live music scene and with Austin FC. (Gabriel Rodriguez)
"The big thing to me was the music," Rodriguez said. "That's what made me want to move to Austin in the first place... I grew up in a place that didn't have that."
Coffey, Rodriguez and many others have also found the Austin spirit with Austin FC, the city's first major league sports team, and its vibrant and community-minded fanbase.
Reason for being in love: Austin FC.
— Micky Ruñoz (@HighMs66) June 7, 2022
"Austin FC has come around and it's caused both old and new Austinite to kind of rally around something that like, yeah, this is our club, but it's also a statement about the kind of community we want to be," Coffey said.
For others, like Michelle Sanchez, Austin is home for many reasons—namely, a famed food scene, family and plenty of outdoor activities.
Proud, Austinite. I love Zilker (all the greenbelts), people for the most part are friendly, soccer, the food, and the fact that my family lives here. <3 I have thought about leaving once my contract is up.
— Michelle Sánchez (@MichelleS_tv) June 7, 2022
In a Reddit post that saw nearly 800 comments, dozens of users pointed to outdoor activities—from Barton Creek's Greenbelt swimming holes to paddle boarding on Lady Bird Lake and trails dotting the city's outskirts. Others said that despite its flaws, they've never found anywhere better.
"Austin doesn't do anything spectacularly, but does more things adequately than most anywhere I can think of," user boyyhowdy said.
However, for some, those "adequacies" still aren't enough to stay.
Over austin too. I resigned a (sub)lease for a super small studio that’s 40% lower than the average 1 bedroom in Austin. This will be my last year in Austin, so I’m staying to save money then move to a city with actual public transit and ditching my car.
— amanduh (taylor's version) (@hey_amanduhh) June 7, 2022
Rodriguez said he's thought of leaving too. But whenever he thinks too long about the city's flaws, he finds solace in Austin's live music venues, including his favorite, Moody Theater. Coffey, meanwhile, recommends longtime spots like Continental Club, the Broken Spoke or even South Congress for a quick "old Austin" fix.
And with housing prices showing signs of slowing down and longtime haunts like Austin's longest-standing grocery store opening back up, there still may be time to reignite a romance with what "Keeps Austin Weird."
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