The summer transfer window is near, and as promised, Austin FC has signed a new scoring prospect, Moussa Djitté, from the French Ligue 2.
Austin FC has confirmed the move a day after owner Anthony Precourt tweeted the signature Verde smoke on Tuesday evening, a telltale sign of a new Austin FC signee. The club brought in 21-year-old Djitté with an undisclosed transfer salary through the U-22 Initiative.
The young center forward will look to bolster an offense that has seen just one goal in seven games. Josh Wolff was unfiltered in his desire to sign a new striker, as was sporting director Claudio Reyna, who said in a press release that he expects Djitte to have an "immediate" impact on the club.
"(Djitté) is an ascending and promising young player with a bright future ahead of him," Reyna said. "As the Club continues to work on adding quality players to the roster, we believe Djitté is ready to contribute in the immediate term."
Obtaining one or more new attacking options, including a high-end Designated Player, was always in the game plan, especially after striker Danny Hoesen was announced to be out for the season due to a hip injury. Austin FC has been plagued with an unlucky bout of injuries this season: fellow striker Jon Gallagher and winger Rodney Redes have also faced injuries in the team's offensive end this season, and backup striker Aaron Schoenfield still needs some recovery time after suffering a knee injury in preseason.
Djitte comes from Grenoble in France's Ligue 2 but is originally from Senegal, where he played for ASC Niarri Tally in Dakar. Djitte spent time in FC Sion in the Swiss Super League before moving to the French Ligue 2 in 2019.
With Grenoble, Djitté scored eight goals in 35 appearances last season. He also represented Senegal internationally, making his debut for the Senegal U-20 team and scoring the only goal in his first match with the U23 team in 2018.
The pressure's on for Djitté to bring some much-needed goals to Austin, but the team's season of signings is likely far from over. Austin FC is slated to sign at least one more Designated Player, which is usually a high-profile athlete that can be paid higher than a club's regular salary cap, as the transfer window opens in July.
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Chi Lee, the director of architecture firm HKS’s new Austin office, describes this point in our city’s life as puberty.
“Our voices are changing and we have freckles everywhere,” Lee said. “You know, starting to look like an adult but still acting like a kid kind of thing.”
But as Austin matures and faces all the pressures of its increased popularity—competing for company relocations and expansions all while managing rising rents and affordability woes—Lee thinks we should look outside when planning an approach to Austin’s growth.
“A big mistake we could make is if we don't embrace what other cities, nationally, regionally, internationally have done to improve upon the experience of all the folks who live there.”
Chi Lee and Brad Wilkins (HKS)
Lee and HKS studio design leader Brad Wilkins keep this in mind as the firm, which has carried out projects in Austin since the 80s, further cements its presence here.
HKS is making ambitious strides in Austin: the firm has more than 50 projects in design or under construction in the Austin market, including Domain 9, the Dell Children’s Medical Center expansion and projects in the Rainey Street District including one that may end up being the tallest tower in Texas.
The Bowie, a 36-story apartment tower HKS designed in Austin's Central Business District. (HKS)
“We've been able to do things during the pandemic, and since then, which are really pushing the boundaries of what Austin would typically do. And frankly, what would be done anywhere in the world,” Wilkins said. “Things like having outdoor space on every level of an office tower and creating the spaces not just to be like outdoor spaces, but to be spaces that people can actually enjoy.”
As these projects span all over the city, Lee and Wilkins are observant of how action on certain quality of life factors could be key to preventing problems as Austin draws in a larger population.
For Wilkins, that’s informed by his international work. He’s lived in about half a dozen places in Europe and Asia, starting his career out in Chicago. He’s carried out big projects and was one of the designers of the first LEED platinum building just outside of Hong Kong.
“One thing that we're always needing to be very careful about is looking at things that were not done great,” Wilkins said. “There are mistakes in public transportation in those cities that I worked in overseas, there are mistakes in public housing.”
It’s partly why the pair see Project Connect—the $7.1 billion transit system expansion voters approved in November 2020 that includes light rail lines, a downtown subway and an expanded bus system—as a boon to the city’s future.
Lee said he’s excited that HKS is working on a couple of projects that are along the future lines and sees it as a massive opportunity for the city.
“We need to get out of our cars if we can. We just don't have the type of transportation infrastructure in place that needs to be in place,” Lee said. “A lot of major metropolitan and urban cities have subway systems and light rail systems and things like that, where we don't.”
The Ashton (HKS)
Still, someday Austin will. The plan is trudging ahead with moves on anti-displacement initiatives and collecting input on design proposals for key lines. So even while HKS prepares for changes to the city from the ground up, Lee and Wilkins aim to maintain the city’s personality.
“I'm always more about the local place, not the international place, even though I do bring with me international experience,” Wilkins said. “Chi and I are only interested in doing Austin, we're interested in making Austin special, keeping Austin culture.”
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Ricky Williams, the University of Texas football alum who went on to play for the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins, has legally changed his name.
During an appearance on the “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz,” the former “Texas Tornado” said he is now going by Errick Miron.
Miron, who retired from the NFL in 2012, said he made a “really meaningful” change a year and a half ago to take the last name of his wife, Linnea. Though he went by Ricky in his NFL days, his birth name is Errick.
The former Heisman Trophy winner said his fame would sometimes create an “imbalance” in their relationship and social circles.
“One of the ideas that popped into my mind was I can take her last name,” Miron said. “I think it’s cool. It’s somewhere where we can both win.”
Furthermore, Miron said that he didn’t feel connected to the name Williams anyway due to family history.
“It’s one of those family secrets,” Miron said. “My grandma, obviously, back then you don’t say anything. Williams was her husband’s name, but wasn’t my dad’s father. So Williams is not even really my last name. And if you go back far enough, its idea of it is a slave name, so I think of what is even the purpose of a last name. And I find more meaning in this last name than Williams.”