In true Austin fashion, a Matthew McConaughey-narrated introduction preluded Austin FC's first-ever pick in the MLS SuperDraft: Virginia Tech midfielder Daniel Pereira.
As the MLS's only expansion team, Austin FC was given the first pick in all three rounds of the draft alongside an additional 11th pick in the first round. The draft, which featured 171 college seniors, Generation Adidas players and select eligible players, allowed Austin FC to round out its roster with some younger players before their inaugural season.
With Clemson's Philip Mayaka regarded as a first-pick favorite before the draft, Pereira was thought to be a top-five draft contender but came as a bit of a surprise as the first overall pick. Pereira, who signed with Generation Adidas to become eligible in professional leagues, scored six goals and six assists in his two years at Virginia Tech.
Alongside his mother and father, Pereira said in an interview during the draft that he was surprised and honored to make the first pick.
"I wasn't really expecting to be No. 1… it's an honor," Pereira said. "I'm really happy, my family is crying. It's a moment I'll never forget."
Pereira's favorite color is green, so he should have no trouble stunting the verde jersey for his first professional season. Despite having the jersey of his choice, Pereira said in an interview on Instagram Live that he will still have to adjust to both Texas and the big leagues as he moves down to Austin.
"I've never been to Texas, (so) it's a whole new life I'm about to be living," Pereira said. "Obviously, it's my first year, so I'm going to have to adapt to the MLS first."
Although he said he's better at attacking than defending, Pereira said he hopes to utilize both sides of the ball to earn a starting position.
"I'm a very mixed guy (and) I'm going to bring a lot to both sides of the game," Pereira said. "It's going to be an amazing first year and hopefully I'll earn a spot on the team."
Austin FC has already landed star midfielder Diego Fagundez, who at 25 has been the youngest player to reach 100 appearances in MLS history and the youngest MLS player ever to reach 25 goals. With Fagundez and Pereira as the SuperDraft's top pick, the team has stacked considerable starter options in the midfield prior to their inaugural season.
In the 11th pick of the first round, Austin FC drafted Freddy Kleemann, a Washington defender who contributed to a team that produced 12 shutouts, surrendered only 14 goals and finished ninth in the NCAA in 2019.
At 6'4, Kleemann looks to be a physically strong central back alongside veteran defender Matt Besler. With seven total defenders, Austin FC appears to be solidifying both their middle and back lines.
To kick off the second round, the club went with University of Virginia forward Daniel Steedman. A Glasgow, Scotland native, Steedman tallied five goals and seven assists at UV and assisted in the game-winning goal in the semifinals of the 2019 NCAA Division I Men's Tournament. After Virginia, Steedman signed to Atlanta United in 2020.
For their final choice, Austin FC selected goalkeeper Noah Lawrence in the first pick of the third round. Lawrence played in 36 games with five shutouts to his credits while at the University of Cincinnati before signing to Ohio State in 2020.
Austin FC chose balance in the SuperDraft, taking a player of each position to round out their roster at four goalkeepers, seven defenders, five midfielders and five forwards. That puts the club at 21 total players, nine away from the 30 athletes allowed on an MLS team's active roster.
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Officials are asking certain residents in Bastrop State Park to evacuate as crews work to put out a “very active fire” that is currently 0% contained.
The Texas A&M Forest Service has responded to help local fire departments with the Rolling Pines Fire at 100 Park Road 1A, which is consuming 300 acres. Residents of Pine Hill Drive, Pine Tree Loop, Linda Lane and Lisa Lane are being asked to evacuate.
Today’s Bastrop Rolling Pines Fire is burning along Power Plant Road towards Lake Bastrop South Shore. pic.twitter.com/YCvJkIAg1u
— BastropCntyTexas OEM (@BastropCntyOEM) January 18, 2022
Aviation resources have been called to assist.
According to the Bastrop County Office of Emergency Management, the wildfire sparked during a prescribed burn that took place today, despite wildfire warnings. Park Road 1C from Harmon Road to Park Road 1A had been closed for the prescribed burn.
The blaze is in the same location as the Bastrop Complex Fire of 2011, which burned for 55 days, killing two people, destroying 34,000 acres and around 1,700 homes and buildings. The fire, which started in 2011, became the most destructive wildfire in Texas at the time.
A hotbed for fires, the Hidden Pines Fire started at the same location in 2015, destroying 4,600 acres and 64 structures.
Some road closures have been put in place at State Highway 21 South Shore Lake Bastrop and East State Highway 21.
This is a developing story and will be updated as information becomes available.
After months of record-setting periods for Austin real estate, the Austin Board of Realtors announced Tuesday that the metro's housing market accounted for over $23 billion of economic activity in 2021, making it the biggest year yet for both home sales and median home prices in the metro.
The Austin-Round Rock MSA saw 41,316 homes sold in 2021, 2.5% more than a record-setting 2020. Median home prices skyrocketed as well, rising 30.8% from 2020 to $450,000. The housing market also saw unprecedented impact on Austin's economy, with sales dollar volume jumping to over $23.38 billion, and more homes hit the market in 2021 than any previous year, increasing by 5.9% to 46,449 total homes listed.
(Austin Board of Realtors)
As many recent Austin homebuyers have experienced firsthand, Austin Board of Realtors 2022 President Cord Shiflet said 2021 was the most "exciting, complicated, fast-paced and record-setting housing market" in Austin's history.
Shiflet dubbed the market as "complicated" for a reason—Austin became a case study on supply and demand in 2021, with demand far outpacing the number of active listings, which dropped by 48.2% to 2,348 homes in 2021.
The metro ended the year with 0.6 months of inventory, a far cry from a "healthy" six-month supply, and houses were snatched at breakneck speeds, spending 25 fewer days on the market when compared to 2020. The average home was on the market for 20 days.
But low inventory is more due to high demand than a stagnant homebuilding market, Mark Sprague, Independence Title's state director of information capital, said in the report.
“In 2021, the record number of homes sold were demand-driven transactions and that demand was influenced greatly by companies continuing to target the region for job creation and expansion," Sprague said. "Even though more homes are being built, listed and sold than ever before, our region is still nowhere close to having a comfortable amount of supply to meet the demand, which is why home prices continue to rise steadily.”
Over 23,000 jobs have been promised by companies across the metro as of December 2021, breaking the 2020 record, according to Opportunity Austin, the economic development arm of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. With an influx of major factories and offices, including Tesla's Giga Texas, Samsung's Taylor plant and a planned 33-floor Facebook office, Sprague said the region's booming market paired with a struggling inventory and supply chain issues could be a double-edged sword in 2022.
"In short, 2022 will see a robust market for home sales and property values, but the region must do more to address inventory, ” Sprague said.
Shiflet recommended that potential homebuyers make a decision ahead of predicted increases in interest rates and home prices and said that he hopes local politicians will continue to prioritize affordable housing in the election year.
Still, Shiflet said a record-breaking housing market reflects Austin's growing reputation as a hub for talent, tech jobs and a good quality of life.
"With all the new jobs across the region from exciting companies like Tesla and Samsung, Austin was put on the world’s stage and captured the hearts and attention of so many," Shiflet said. "We are lucky to call Austin our home when it has so much to offer from a great quality of life to a wonderful destination for innovation and opportunity.”
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