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Austin FC adds to defense with Norwegian veteran signing

Norwegian defender Ruben Gabrielsen has signed as Austin FC's latest signee. (Molde Fotballklubb/Twitter)

The Verde smoke cleared once again for a new signing Monday as Norwegian defender Ruben Gabrielson looks to answer the club's quest for a new central defender on Monday.


Gabrielsen signed a two-year contract with an option to stay for the 2024 season. Financial details for the signing were not disclosed..

Gabrielsen comes as a 29-year-old defender with experience in Norway and France's top leagues. At 17, Gabrielsen became the youngest-ever player to debut for Norwegian team Lillestrøm in 2009, shifting to Molde FK in 2014 as he helped lead the team to win the Norwegian league and cup that year. Named Molde captain three years later, Gabrielsen won another Norwegian league championship in 2019 before leaving for French side Toulouse FC, totaling 171 appearances, eight goals and eight assists with Molde.

With Toulouse FC, Gabrielsen made 50 appearances in 2020 before going on loan to Danish club FC Copenhagen in 2021. Gabrielsen has also made two appearances with the Norwegian men's national team, earning the captain's armband in a draw against Austria in a match in November 2020.

An experienced center back, Gabrielsen's signing appears to plug the biggest hole in Austin FC's projected starting lineup after veteran Matt Besler retired at the end of the 2021 season. Gabrielsen is the second center back signed this offseason after the club signed No. 1 SuperDraft defender Kipp Keller as its first pick in the 2022 draft on January 11.

Gabrielsen joins the club as a member of the club's international roster, which allows only a limited number of international players to be in a club at one time. In order to free up some spots for Gabrielsen, Austin FC's Jhohan Romana, Zan Kolmanic and Rodney Redes were cleared from the international roster Monday morning after receiving green cards. International spots are also tradeable, and the club opted to sell one of its slots to MLS Club Inter Miami CF for $225,000 to add to its signing budget.

In total, Austin FC has signed three midfielders, three defenders and a striker as it nears the end of its first offseason. While the club has lost prospects like native Austinite McKinze Gaines, new signees include veteran midfielder Ethan Finlay, Colombian midfielder Jhojan Valencia and former Houston Dynamo striker Maxi Urruti.

The club is currently training and will hit the pitch once more when preseason begins with a scrimmage against Toronto FC at Austin's practice field, St. David's Performance Center, on Wednesday, Feb. 9. Austin FC's four-match preseason schedule will include an international friendly against current Liga MX champions Atlas FC on Feb. 16 before the club's second season begins with a home opener against FC Cincinnati at Q2 Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 26.

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